Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, August 12, 2017

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time
Opening Sentence
Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, "I dwell in the high and holy place and also with the one who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15

Morning Prayer
I  call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.

I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.

I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.

I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done. Amen.

Confession and Forgiveness
O Holy One, we call to you and name you as eternal, ever-present, and boundless in love. Yet there are times, O God, when we fail to recognize you in the dailyness of our lives. Sometimes shame clenches tightly around our hearts, and we hide our true feelings. Sometimes fear makes us small, and we miss the chance to speak from our strength. Sometimes doubt invades our hopefulness, and we degrade our own wisdom.

Holy God, in the daily round from sunrise to sunset, remind us again of your holy presence hovering near us and in us. Free us from shame and self-doubt. Help us to see you in the moment-by-moment possibilities to live honestly, to act courageously, and to speak from our wisdom. Amen.

Today's Readings

The First Reading is taken from 2 Samuel 12:15-31
[Bathsheba’s Child Dies] Then Nathan went to his house. The LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became very ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, "While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we tell him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm." But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, he perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" They said, "He is dead." Then David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the LORD, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate. Then his servants said to him, "What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food." He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me, and the child may live.' But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."
[Solomon Is Born] Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba, and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon. The LORD loved him, and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the LORD.
[The Ammonites Crushed] Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites, and took the royal city. Joab sent messengers to David, and said, "I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the water city. Now, then, gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; or I myself will take the city, and it will be called by my name." So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. He took the crown of Milcom from his head; the weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David's head. He also brought forth the spoil of the city, a very great amount. He brought out the people who were in it, and set them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, or sent them to the brickworks. Thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

The Second Reading is taken from Acts 20:1-16

[Paul Goes to Macedonia and Greece] After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples; and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given the believers much encouragement, he came to Greece, where he stayed for three months. He was about to set sail for Syria when a plot was made against him by the Jews, and so he decided to return through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea, by Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, by Gaius from Derbe, and by Timothy, as well as by Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia. They went ahead and were waiting for us in Troas; but we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we joined them in Troas, where we stayed for seven days.
[Paul’s Farewell Visit to Troas] On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.
[The Voyage from Troas to Miletus] We went ahead to the ship and set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there; for he had made this arrangement, intending to go by land himself. When he met us in Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and on the following day we arrived opposite Chios. The next day we touched at Samos, and the day after that we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; he was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

The Holy Gospel is written in Mark 9:30-41
[Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection] They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
[Who Is the Greatest?] Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
[Another Exorcist] John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

Morning Psalms
Psalm 87 Fundamenta ejus
1   On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
2   Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of our God.
3   I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me; behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born.
4   Of Zion it shall be said, "Everyone was born in her, and the Most High himself shall sustain her."
5   The LORD will record as he enrolls the peoples, "These also were born there."
6   The singers and the dancers will say, "All my fresh springs are in you."

Psalm 90 Domine, refugium
1   Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another.
2   Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, from age to age you are God.
3   You turn us back to the dust and say, "Go back, O child of earth."
4   For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past and like a watch in the night.
5   You sweep us away like a dream; we fade away suddenly like the grass.
6   In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered.
7   For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid because of your wrathful indignation.
8   Our iniquities you have set before you, and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
9   When you are angry, all our days are gone; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10   The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
11   Who regards the power of your wrath? who rightly fears your indignation?
12   So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
13   Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry? be gracious to your servants.
14   Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
15   Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us and the years in which we suffered adversity.
16   Show your servants your works and your splendor to their children.
17   May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us; prosper the work of our hands; prosper our handiwork.

Evening Psalms
Psalm 136 Confitemini
1   Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.
2   Give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures for ever.
3   Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his mercy endures for ever.
4   Who only does great wonders, for his mercy endures for ever;
5   Who by wisdom made the heavens, for his mercy endures for ever;
6   Who spread out the earth upon the waters, for his mercy endures for ever;
7   Who created great lights, for his mercy endures for ever;
8   The sun to rule the day, for his mercy endures for ever;
9   The moon and the stars to govern the night, for his mercy endures for ever.
10   Who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his mercy endures for ever;
11   And brought out Israel from among them, for his mercy endures for ever;
12   With a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm, for his mercy endures for ever;
13   Who divided the Red Sea in two, for his mercy endures for ever;
14   And made Israel to pass through the midst of it, for his mercy endures for ever;
15   But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea, for his mercy endures for ever;
16   Who led his people through the wilderness, for his mercy endures for ever.
17   Who struck down great kings, for his mercy endures for ever;
18   And slew mighty kings, for his mercy endures for ever;
19   Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his mercy endures for ever;
20   And Og, the king of Bashan, for his mercy endures for ever;
21   And gave away their lands for an inheritance, for his mercy endures for ever;
22   An inheritance for Israel his servant, for his mercy endures for ever.
23   Who remembered us in our low estate, for his mercy endures for ever;
24   And delivered us from our enemies, for his mercy endures for ever;
25   Who gives food to all creatures, for his mercy endures for ever.
26   Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his mercy endures for ever.

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
I  come to you, my God, asking that your Spirit guide me in prayer. Lead me to complete devotion in my moments spent with you, Lord, for your Son has told us to come to you and I want to do so, not halfway, but with my full heart.

I know from Him that prayer is for the good of all. For you, because it is your commandment; for myself, because you love me as no other and want to fill me with goodness; for other people, for I want to love them in ways that are not in my nature and can only do if your power shines fully through my existence.

You have sent us your Holy Spirit; let me know Him in all times and in all places and in every cell of my being. When I am confused, the Spirit will bring me wisdom; when I am angry, peace; when I am afraid, comfort. When I have puffed myself up with pride, the Spirit will gently dissolve my self-deception, so that fear and greed and foolishness will melt away and I will know you, and the security and peace of the only truth on earth: the love of Christ. Let this be, Lord, I pray. Light my path. Amen.

Prayer for Holiness
Holy God, no one can put together what has crumbled into dust, but you can restore a conscience turned to ashes. You can restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope. With you, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed. You are love; You are Creator and Redeemer. I praise you with my every ounce.

I fear the lesson, my God, of the fall of Lucifer, full of pride. I pray you will keep me from such a terrible fate; keep me safe with the power of your Grace; save me from falling away from you. Save me from doubt. Incline my heart to hear your mysterious voice every moment of my life and thus be led to call upon you, for you are present in every thing and every moment. Amen.

A Prayer for Mission
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Who Am I?

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 SATURDAY, August 12, 2017

I  come to you, my God, asking that your Spirit guide me in prayer. Lead me to complete devotion in my moments spent with you, Lord, for your Son has told us to come to you and I want to do so, not halfway, but with my full heart.

I know from Him that prayer is for the good of all. For you, because it is your commandment; for myself, because you love me as no other and want to fill me with goodness; for other people, for I want to love them in ways that are not in my nature and can only do if your power shines fully through my existence.

You have sent us your Holy Spirit; let me know Him in all times and in all places and in every cell of my being. When I am confused, the Spirit will bring me wisdom; when I am angry, peace; when I am afraid, comfort. When I have puffed myself up with pride, the Spirit will gently dissolve my self-deception, so that fear and greed and foolishness will melt away and I will know you, and the security and peace of the only truth on earth: the love of Christ. Let this be, Lord, I pray. Light my path. Amen.

Verse of the Day for SATURDAY, August 12, 2017

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV) Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Read all of 1 Corinthians 6

Listen to 1 Corinthians 6

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 - Who Is The Lord To You?

“I am holding you by your right hand--I, the LORD your God.”

~ Isaiah 41:13a (TLB)

Millie Stamm related a story about a man of God and his banker. The story went like this: “One time a man of God was in great need for a trip he had to make. His banker came to see him and slipped a folded paper into his hand. When the man looked at it he saw a check with no amount filled in. Are you giving me a blank check...He asked. Yes, said his banker. Fill it in for whatever your needs may be. All the resources of his banker were at his disposal.” The man of God had a great need, and the banker was the Lord's chosen person to convey His work.

All believers have their own personal banker, and that is the Lord. He is the passageway to abundant treasures in the Bible. But, His people often neglect to quickly recall just who the Lord is in matters of their spiritual life. Ponder awhile to seek out who the Lord is to you.

You may want to turn your thoughts to Psalm 23:1. It states: “The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.”. Paul depended upon the Shepherd to supply his needs. For example, the Shepherd supplied to Paul not only his spiritual needs, but also his nonspiritual needs. The Lord provided to Paul, who was in prison, through the common people in Philippi who were Paul's “dear brothers and sisters”. They sent “gifts” to him. In a personal letter, written to the Christians in Philippi, Paul stated: “At the moment I have all I need--more than I need! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me...This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches...”. This same Shepherd will take care of you also.

David learned about the Lord through the events in his life. In I Samuel, II Samuel, and the Psalms he presents many examples of who the Lord is to him. A few examples are: God is his refuge; God is his helper; and God is faithful.

In Hebrew the name of the LORD is “Yahweh Shalom”, which means the LORD Is Peace. In John, Jesus stated that He was leaving a gift. That gift is “peace of mind and heart”. He stated that His peace is unlike the peace that the world presents. The peace of Christ provides to you a deep and lasting peace. This is a magnificent gift.

To know who the Lord is to you, be sure to spend special time with the Shepherd. Accept His gift of peace into your heart and soul. Allow Him to be your place of refuge and your helper. The same God who took care of Paul will also take care of you. Be willing to render assistance similar to the examples of the banker and Paul's “brothers and sisters” in Philippi. Remain secure in the knowledge that the Lord is watching over you, and holding you by your right hand. The Lord is “always with you”.
Lord God, thank You for being our Shepherd. Amen.
In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Un Dia a la Vez - La rebeldía

Preserva también a tu siervo de las soberbias; que no se enseñoreen de mí; entonces seré íntegro, y estaré limpio de gran rebelión.

Ayer aprendimos que debemos limpiar y poner en orden nuestro cuerpo que, desde el punto de vista espiritual, es la casa de Dios.

Sé que a veces cuando no entendemos mucho el porqué de las cosas que nos pide Dios, se levanta cierta rebeldía en uno. Se trata de algo que nos dice: «¿Y por qué tengo que hacerlo?». Entonces, si lo hacemos, quizá sea a medias y cambiemos ciertas cosas. No obstante, nos quedamos con lo que nos gusta, que a menudo es lo más pecaminoso. Es de lamentar que no entendamos que el mal es para nosotros mismos, ya que esa actitud no nos llevará a ningún final feliz.

Todos tenemos algo de rebeldes. A ninguno nos agrada que nos digan que debemos cambiar. Pensamos que nadie tiene derecho sobre nosotros. Es más, se nos olvida que si hemos rendido la vida a Dios, Él tiene autoridad sobre ti y sobre mí y la tiene como Padre.

¿Qué es lo que levanta en ti la rebeldía? ¿Salir de tu zona de comodidad y hacer cambios radicales? Recuerda que esto te traerá bendición.

Dios es un Dios de orden, por eso no actúa en el desorden. Por lo tanto, si Dios no trabaja en nosotros cuando hay desorden, ¿por qué no ordenamos nuestra vida?

¡Ah! Tengamos presentes que los que trabajan en el desorden son los demonios.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - SOLUTION TO PERSECUTION

“I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
~ Esther 4:16b (NIV)

Today we have the second in the series from a house church pastor’s sermon in China:

How is suffering overcome? Or if you like, what is the solution to persecution? A church father answered this way; “Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if God were going to do his work through you.” So when resisting persecution, we do everything humanly possible to lessen it. But then we also beseech God to put a stop to it. In the two comes deliverance.

You can see both sides involved here. On the human level, we see two characteristics coming to the fore especially—courage and cunning. Esther is the one who displays courage, by taking her life in her hands to enter the king’s presence without an appointment. She says, “If I perish, I perish.” What a brave woman! She’s also the one who displays cunning, hatching a plan to entrap Haman. She throws a banquet, reveals her racial identity, and then exposes Haman as the man who wants to kill her.

Would it have worked? Who knows? Perhaps not. Haman did have great clout with the king as a trusted advisor, and Esther was merely a queen, and queens—as made clear here—are easily replaceable.

But it did work out, thanks to God. And this is the other side. We pray and pray that God will intervene. There is so much that is beyond our control. Our planning, our cunning, our bravery, is never enough. We need God’s help. So the Jews have a time of weeping and repentance (Esther 4:1-3), and then God intervenes in an astonishing way.

An old pastor used to say to me, “I find that coincidences stop happening when I stop praying.” The resolution of the book of Esther hinges on a massive coincidence, namely, that at the precise moment Haman expects to kill Mordecai, the king decides to honor Mordecai. Both men reach each situation independently. Take the king, for instance.

· The king just happens to have a sleepless night before Haman will pitch his plan.

· He just happens to read the annals to get to sleep, and just happens to find the part that tells of a good deed of Mordecai.

· He just happens to decide to honor Mordecai the following morning at the very moment Haman comes into the room.

· He just happens to select the first person who walks into his room at that time to carry out his plan.

· That person is Haman, who just happens to be ready to ask for the head of Mordecai.

And through a misunderstanding, the king decides to put Haman to death, as he thinks Haman is molesting Esther when in fact he’s only pleading. The point is, all this is outside human control. It’s God’s doing. But He worked within Esther’s plan. And so the plan to persecute the Jews is foiled.

RESPONSE: Today I acknowledge that there are no coincidences, just God-incidences!

PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to be faithful and see evidences of Your control over my circumstances.

NIV Devotions for Couples - Model Parenting

1 Thessalonians 2:1–16

We were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children . . . we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

The apostle Paul gives us a beautiful model of the church: a family in which leaders think of themselves as loving parents who are called to care for and encourage those they lead.

But Paul’s use of the analogy of parenthood in 1 Thessalonians 2 may have surprised some in the church. This was before the study of child development, so the parents of Paul’s day probably didn’t spend much time thinking about the emotional or spiritual needs of their kids.

So for Paul to say that he and his fellow missionaries, Silas and Timothy (see 1 Thessalonians 1:1), had acted like nurturing mothers and encouraging fathers was no doubt radical thinking for many. Paul assumed that a loving, caring parent doesn’t just order a kid around and demand respect. Instead, a good parent is supportive, sets a good example, offers comfort and care when a child is struggling, and guides the child as parent and child each try to live lives “worthy of God” (2:12).

Today some Christian parents believe that their most important role is to teach their children to be obedient and to respect authority. If they fail to do this, they think their children won’t respect God’s authority and will fall away from the faith. Such parenting can take on an air of infallibility, become harsh and demand absolute submission. In a family with this type of parenting style, children are punished for disrespecting parental authority or questioning a parent’s God-given right to boss them around.

That is not the way God parents us. True, our heavenly Father asks for obedience to his commands—and he punishes those who persist in rebelling against him—but he is also compassionate, slow to anger and faithful to forgive. He doesn’t demand our respect; he wins it by his loving care and mercy. God doesn’t push us into obedience; he invites us to follow Jesus.

We want so badly to raise our children well that often, instead of graciously guiding our children toward abundant life with God, we fearfully pull them away from the evils of this fallen world. Instead of offering our children grace and guidance when they make mistakes, we pour shame and disappointment on them, hoping the guilt they feel will ward off future trouble. Parenting out of fear may work in the short run, but it does little to help our children become the hopeful, loving people God created them to be.

Parenting gives us an amazing opportunity to participate in the formation and training of another human being. Like Paul and his fellow church leaders, parents who offer their children encouragement, comfort, guidance and discipline are building the church of the future, the church that will continue to bring the love and grace of God to a hurting world.

Carla Barnhill

Let’s Talk
  • What is our philosophy of parenting? What is the role of parents in the life of a child? How should parents handle disobedience and disrespect?
  • How can we offer the kind of encouragement and comfort that Paul talked about to stepchildren or foster children who might still be getting to know us? How can we work together to help children in this type of situation adjust to a new family unit?
  • How can we positively influence the kids we know who may not have a positive model of marriage and parenting?

LHM Daily Devotion - August 12, 2017 " Finally, Forgiveness"

There is only one unforgivable sin.

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour

"Finally, Forgiveness"

August 12, 2017

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

There is only one unforgivable sin.

But, if you are from Chicago, or are a died-in-the-wool Cubs fan, there is a second sin which you might think is mighty close. That sin was committed 14 years ago by one individual: a fellow by the name of Steve Bartman.

For those of you who don't remember, the year was 2003 and the Cubs were in the National League Championship Series. They were five outs away from an appearance in the World Series. It was then the batter on the opposing team hit a foul ball. It appeared the Cubs outfielder might be able to snag that foul for an out. That was when Steve Bartman, a loyal Cubs fan, reached down with his baseball glove and deflected the ball.

There were a number of things which happened because of Bartman's error: the Cubs had to wait more than a decade for their World Series win. Steve Bartman had to be escorted from the stadium and was given police protection from those who wanted to kill him (really).

Since then, people have endlessly asked, "What would happen if only Steve hadn't ...?"

But now, hopefully, things have changed. You see, the Chicago Cubs have decided to give Steve Bartman a World Series ring of his very own. They did so saying, "We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series."

In other words, Steve Bartman is forgiven.

You know, it took more than a bit of gold and a few diamonds to win our forgiveness for all the Laws of the Lord that we have broken. Jesus Christ, God's only Son and our Savior, was born into the world for the express purpose of offering Himself as the price necessary to reconcile us with the Lord. The Redeemer's entire life from cradle to grave and beyond was dedicated to fulfilling the Laws we had desecrated and resisting all the temptations which we had found to be so very inviting.

Although innocent of any wrongdoing, our sins were laid upon Jesus, and He carried them to the cross where He died the death, which we had deserved. Now because of what the risen Christ has done all who are brought to Him in faith are forgiven and saved.

To be released from sin's curse is a wonderful, blood-bought gift, which calls for a response from us who are the undeserving recipients. And what is that response? Simple. We need to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for all that my Savior has done, for His selfless sacrifice and continuous caring, I give thanks. Now grant that I may be able to forgive others as completely as I have been forgiven. This I ask in the Redeemer's Name. Amen.

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