Monday, August 21, 2017

The Daily Readings for MONDAY, August 21, 2017

Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Opening Sentence
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord."
~ Psalm 122:1

Morning Prayer
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
I thank thee.

Confession and Forgiveness
Eternal God, in whom we live and move and have our being, whose face is hidden from us by our sins, and whose mercy we forget in the blindness of our hearts: cleanse us from all our offenses, and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires, that with reverent and humble hearts we may draw near to you, confessing our faults, confiding in your grace, and finding in you our refuge and strength; through Jesus Christ your Son.
~ Book of Common Worship

Today's Readings

The First Reading is taken from 2 Samuel 17:24-18:8
Then David came to Mahanaim, while Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army in the place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigal daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. The Israelites and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead. When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, "The troops are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness."
[The Defeat and Death of Absalom]
Then David mustered the men who were with him, and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. And David divided the army into three groups: one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the men, "I myself will also go out with you." But the men said, "You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore it is better that you send us help from the city." The king said to them, "Whatever seems best to you I will do." So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. The king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom. So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. The men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.

The Second Reading is taken from Acts 22:30-23:11
[Paul before the Council]
Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them. While Paul was looking intently at the council he said, "Brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God." Then the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to strike him on the mouth. At this Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting there to judge me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me to be struck?" Those standing nearby said, "Do you dare to insult God's high priest?" And Paul said, "I did not realize, brothers, that he was high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.'" When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, "Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead." When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees' group stood up and contended, "We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks. That night the Lord stood near him and said, "Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome."

The Holy Gospel is written in Mark 11:12-26
[Jesus Curses the Fig Tree]
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.
[Jesus Cleanses the Temple]
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
[The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree]
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered." Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."

Morning Psalms
Psalm 106:1-18 Confitemini Domino
1   Hallelujah! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.
2   Who can declare the mighty acts of the LORD or show forth all his praise?
3   Happy are those who act with justice and always do what is right!
4   Remember me, O LORD, with the favor you have for your people, and visit me with your saving help;
5   That I may see the prosperity of your elect and be glad with the gladness of your people, that I may glory with your inheritance.
6   We have sinned as our forebears did; we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
7   In Egypt they did not consider your marvelous works, nor remember the abundance of your love; they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.
8   But he saved them for his Name's sake, to make his power known.
9   He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.
10   He saved them from the hand of those who hated them and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
11   The waters covered their oppressors; not one of them was left.
12   Then they believed his words and sang him songs of praise.
13   But they soon forgot his deeds and did not wait for his counsel.
14   A craving seized them in the wilderness, and they put God to the test in the desert.
15   He gave them what they asked, but sent leanness into their soul.
16   They envied Moses in the camp, and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD.
17   The earth opened and swallowed Dathan and covered the company of Abiram.
18   Fire blazed up against their company, and flames devoured the wicked.

Evening Psalms
Psalm 106:19-48 Et fecerunt vitulum
19   Israel made a bull-calf at Horeb and worshiped a molten image;
20   And so they exchanged their Glory for the image of an ox that feeds on grass.
21   They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,
22   Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham, and fearful things at the Red Sea.
23   So he would have destroyed them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath from consuming them.
24   They refused the pleasant land and would not believe his promise.
25   They grumbled in their tents and would not listen to the voice of the LORD.
26   So he lifted his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness,
27   To cast out their seed among the nations, and to scatter them throughout the lands.
28   They joined themselves to Baal-Peor and ate sacrifices offered to the dead.
29   They provoked him to anger with their actions, and a plague broke out among them.
30   Then Phinehas stood up and interceded, and the plague came to an end.
31   This was reckoned to him as righteousness throughout all generations for ever.
32   Again they provoked his anger at the waters of Meribah, so that he punished Moses because of them;
33   For they so embittered his spirit that he spoke rash words with his lips.
34   They did not destroy the peoples as the LORD had commanded them.
35   They intermingled with the heathen and learned their pagan ways,
36   So that they worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.
37   They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to evil spirits.
38   They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, which they offered to the idols of Canaan, and the land was defiled with blood.
39   Thus they were polluted by their actions and went whoring in their evil deeds.
40   Therefore the wrath of the LORD was kindled against his people and he abhorred his inheritance.
41   He gave them over to the hand of the heathen, and those who hated them ruled over them.
42   Their enemies oppressed them, and they were humbled under their hand.
43   Many a time did he deliver them, but they rebelled through their own devices, and were brought down in their iniquity.
44   Nevertheless, he saw their distress, when he heard their lamentation.
45   He remembered his covenant with them and relented in accordance with his great mercy.
46   He caused them to be pitied by those who held them captive.
47   Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy Name and glory in your praise.
48   Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting; and let all the people say, "Amen!" Hallelujah!

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
O mighty God, I was born a weak, defenseless child, but Your angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now Your love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of Your providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give You thanks, with all who have come to know You, who call upon Your name. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

For Unity
Heavenly Lord, let me always remember that the Holy Spirit who guides and protects me is the same Spirit who guides and protects all Christians. We are one in your Spirit, and the differences that divide us are the work of Satan. He is powerful in the world, Lord; and only you are strong enough to protect us against him.

Let me always seek unity. Let me call on your Spirit for power when I feel separated from my brother or sister, the power of reconciliation, that we might find the unity and harmony in which you have commanded us to live. Let me never think that the Spirit conforms to my individual personality; but let me seek to conform myself to the one true Spirit of God. In Christ's name, I pray. 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.

Every Praise
Hezekiah Walker

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

Closing Prayer
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns 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 21, 2017

O mighty God, I was born a weak, defenseless child, but Your angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now Your love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of Your providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give You thanks, with all who have come to know You, who call upon Your name. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

Verse of the Day for MONDAY, August 21, 2017

Psalm 42:8 (NIV) By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

Read all of Psalm 42

Listen to Psalm 42

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 - Loving the Stranger

You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The term “stranger” here imperfectly translates the persons to whom the commandment applies. To the Hebrews, a stranger was a person of another race or culture who lived, or sought to live, among them; what we would call a “Gentile.” In other words, the quote means “love the foreigner living among you.” Some Bibles, in fact, replace the word “stranger” with the phrase “foreigner living among you.”

The admonition caused the Jews of the Old Testament a great deal of consternation, for there were also rules, given under the Law of Moses, that forbade the Hebrews from some forms of interaction with Gentiles. Primarily, they were to “destroy” the tribes living in Canaan. They were required to tear down all of these tribes' altars and heathen statues, they could make no covenant with them, and they could not intermarry with them. Deut. 7. In some specific cases, they were required to annihilate them, e.g., in Jericho the Hebrews “utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.” Joshua 6:21.

But Deuteronomy gives a reason for these extreme measures. Intimate dealings with these tribes, and especially marriage, might cause the Hebrew to adopt their religious practices, such as the worship of idols. Deuteronomy 7:4.

We do not have nearly enough space here to flesh out the Hebrews’ proper relationship to Gentiles. The rules changed over time, applied with different force to different tribes (eventually, the grandchildren of marriage to Egyptians and Moabites would be accepted as Jews), and primarily dealt with marriage. What is clear is this: by the time of Christ, the extreme and nit-picking discrimination against Gentiles living in Canaan, created and enforced by the Pharisees, came from their own minds and not from the commandments of God.

We see the error of the Pharisees time and time again in the Gospels. They had stretched the rules to the extreme of forbidding Jews from eating with Gentiles; yet Christ freely ate with Gentiles. (E.g. Mark 2:15-17.) But Christ’s greatest pronouncement came in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable was a gloss to the pronouncement, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” when He was asked, “Who then is my neighbor?” The inhabitants of Samaria were great enemies of Judea. Yet Christ traveled to Samaria, spoke with a woman at well, and in all things treated them as He would treat a fellow Jew. (John 4.)

Christians have a similar problem, for the Bible tells us not to “yoke ourselves to non-believers.” (2 Cor. 6:16) We should not marry a non-Christian, yet, if we find ourselves married to one, we should not divorce him or her. (1 Cor. 7:12-13.) Most commentators believe that we should read this to mean that we may not become so closely bound to non-believer that we become participants to sin, or heathen religions.

Yet, like the Hebrews of old, we must love the foreigners who live among us. No matter where we live — in the United States, in Nigeria, in Brazil — we are going to have immigrants living with us, both Christian and non-Christian, whom it would be easy to dislike. Some of them will look odd to us, perhaps smell odd, speak our language with difficulty (if at all), dress oddly, have peculiar ideas about things, etc.

How does the Bible tell us to treat such people? Without any doubt whatsoever, it commands us to love them. If they are Christians, we must seek to treat them just as we treat Christians who are native-born. If they are non-Christians, we must still love them, although we might keep a bit more distance so that we do not become “yoked” to them.
Lord, let me always treat foreigners living in my community with love. Amen.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the 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. Devotion by Mason Barge.
To the Hebrews, a stranger was a person of another race or culture who lived, or sought to live, among them.

Un Dia a la Vez - Oración por el dominio de las palabras

Si alguien se cree religioso pero no le pone freno a su lengua, se engaña a sí mismo, y su religión no sirve para nada.
~ Santiago 1:26 (NVI)

Señor, en este día te damos gracias por tu presencia en nuestras vidas. También te damos gracias por tu Palabra que nos examina y nos permite mejorar y cambiar comportamientos que no te son agradables.

Queremos, mi Dios, entregarte toda nuestra vida. En especial, queremos pedirte que nos ayudes a meditar sobre la importancia de controlar cada palabra que salga de nuestra boca.

Si le hemos hecho daño a alguien, danos la oportunidad de restituir y restablecer relaciones y contactos que se lastimaron por nuestra culpa.

Y, por favor, mi Señor, refrena nuestra lengua.

Te lo pedimos en el nombre de Jesús, amén y amén.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - ENDURANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had…
~ Romans 15:5 (NIV)

Zinaida Vilchinskaya was a grandmother at the time she was arrested in the Soviet Union while carrying Christian literature. She shares a poignant episode of how one believer can encourage another in endurance during difficult circumstances:

When the police first took me to the police station, I was put in a very cold cell with bare iron bunks. The guards took my scarf and my coat, and I lay on the bunk in just a dress. I was shivering, and I started to pray. When my cellmate saw me pray, she, too, got on her knees and said, “Oh, I can’t stand it. I’m freezing too.” She started to cry softly.

“Lord,” I prayed, “if You want me to be frozen here, may Your will be done; just enable me to endure this with love, submission, and meekness. But You can help me. You can even take me out of here if that’s Your will.”

I lay back down and felt such warmth. I told the other woman, “Here, let me put my arm around you, and you’ll get warmer.” We warmed up together. Later when they transferred us to different cells, she told everyone in hers, “God warmed up Aunt Zhenya (as they called me) in our cell, and she warmed me up.”

RESPONSE: Today I will seek to find ways to encourage others going through the same challenges I have faced.

PRAYER: Lord, give me the mind of Jesus toward others in order that Your endurance and encouragement may flow through me.

Women of the Bible - Gomer

Her name means: "Completion"

Her character: Though a married woman, she carried on numerous love affairs, crediting her lovers for the gifts her husband had given her.
Her sorrow: To have become the symbol of spiritual adultery—a picture of Israel's unfaithfulness to God.
Her joy: That her husband continued to love her despite her unfaithfulness.
Key Scriptures: Hosea 1-3

Her Story

The man stood at the door, craning his neck and peering through the half-light. His limbs felt stiff and cold, despite the desert heat that still warmed the narrow street. Other than a stray dog curled in a knot against the wall of a neighboring house, he saw nothing. It was too late for a woman to be walking the streets alone. But, then, she wouldn't be alone, would she?

He didn't want to go inside yet, to listen to the absence of her chatter, to lie down on the empty bed. By noon tomorrow, the news of her betrayal would fill every gossip-hungry soul in town like swill in a pig's belly. Hosea, the man who would steer the nation with his prophecies, couldn't even control his own wife.

He felt grief and fury like a storm breaking inside him. He had meant to guard his heart; he had never intended to give himself so completely. His pain was the worse for loving her so well. For Gomer had squandered his gifts, mocked his tenderness, and allowed herself to be seduced by other lovers.

Hadn't God warned him and instructed him to "go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord"? He had named his children "Jezreel" (God Scatters), "Lo-Ruhamah" (Not Loved), and "Lo-Ammi" (Not My People). Each successive child measured the growing rift between husband and wife. Hosea wondered whether he had even fathered the last two.

The word of the Lord that had filled Hosea's mouth now troubled his soul, rushing back with appalling force. So this was how God felt about his own people—bitterly betrayed, cut to the heart, disgusted, outraged. His tender love, his every gift meant nothing to a people enamored with Canaanite gods. Israel's leading men were the worst whores of all—virtuosos when it came to playing the harlot, cheating the poor and imploring idols to bless them with peace and riches.

But peace was elusive. Six kings had ruled the northern kingdom during a period of just twenty-five years. Four were murdered by their successors and one was captured in battle. All the while, Assyria perched like a vulture at its borders.

If only Israel would learn its lesson and turn back to the Lord before it was too late—if only Gomer would turn back. Hosea wanted to shout in her face, shake her awake to her sin. Enough of patience. Enough of tenderness. She had ignored his threats, shrugging them off as so many flies on a donkey. What choice had he now? He would strip and shame her, punishing her unfaithfulness.

In the midst of his bitter grief, he heard the voice of God, strong and clear: "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods."

So Hosea took back the wife he couldn't stop loving. And the word of the Lord transformed Lo-Ruhamah into Ruhamah (Loved) and Lo-Ammi into Ammi (My People).

The story of Gomer and Hosea portrays God's jealousy for his people. For the first time, a prophet dared to speak of God as husband and Israel as his bride. But this is a tangled love story, one in which God's heart is repeatedly broken. Despite his pleas, regardless of his threats, Israel would not turn back to him until after the northern kingdom was destroyed by Assyria a few years later.

Still, the knit-together lives of Hosea and Gomer were a living reminder to the Israelites of both God's judgment and his love. Hosea's beautiful words still move us as we think about the church today, about our own unfaithfulness and God's forgiveness: "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."

No longer Lo-Ruhamah, we are Ruhamah (Loved), and no longer Lo-Ammi but Ammi (My People). For our Maker has become our Husband, the one who hates our sin but loves us still.

Her Promise

A tempestuous marriage. A wife who will not remain faithful to the husband who loves her. A husband who not only remains faithful, but loving. Children whose paternity is in doubt. All these are the elements not of a soap opera but of a wonderful picture of God's love and faithfulness to his often unloving and unfaithful people. The promises portrayed in the life of Gomer apply not only to the people of Israel but to the people of today. God loves us and remains faithful to us. Even when we abandon him and turn away, he waits with arms open. He only asks our repentance and his blessings will again overflow.

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 21, 2017

Waiting to Be Remembered

Today’s Truth

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
~ Psalm 27:14 (NLT)

Friend to Friend

As I sat in a cute little tea room, I listened to a friend recount her story of pain. She had taught Bible studies, blogged, and led in the women’s ministry at her local church. Leading, writing, and speaking energized her as she felt equipped and called of God to use her gifts to serve others. After a series of misunderstandings, a group of women’s ministry leaders asked her to step down from her position of teaching.

She questioned herself, wondering how this had happened and how God wanted her to use her gifts now. After some time to process and pray, she humbly asked the women’s leaders for a path back into ministry. They confirmed her call and her ability as a teacher and gave her constructive feedback. However there was no place for her to teach in women's ministry at that time. As we sat having tea several months later, she was still waiting for the path back to become clear.

Joseph in the Old Testament knew what it was like to wait for people to remember him. He was waiting for his God-given dreams to come true with no evidence that things would change anytime soon. During periods of waiting and isolation such as Joseph experienced, we have much time to think and process our circumstances. These are days when bitterness is knocking on our door, bidding us to nurse unforgiveness and thicken the walls to keep others out. Joseph couldn’t control his circumstances, but he could govern his own spirit. Though initially he may have flaunted his father’s favoritism, he learned to work hard, honor God, and maintain integrity during his time of captivity. Proverbs 25:28 says, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit / Is like a city broken down, without walls” (NKJV).

Of course, Joseph was human, just as we are. He probably didn’t respond initially to the challenges and hurts in his life with thoughts such as these:
  • My brothers’ betrayal is such a great opportunity for personal growth.
  • It was worth it to be tempted by Potiphar’s wife every day and then falsely accused when I chose to do the right thing.
  • I’m so glad the cup bearer forgot me so that I can suffer longer here in prison.
I’m guessing Joseph had to work through the hurt and the hate. However, he was able to move toward healing and right responses. As we see with other biblical characters, God was more concerned with Joseph’s character than with his comfort.

I find that the same holds true in my life. God seems more concerned about my character than He is about my comfort. Can you relate?

In our times of waiting, God prepares us for new beginnings. Whether they are big or small, we all have realities that we can’t change in life. Like Joseph, the only variable we can control is how we will choose to respond to these events and the people involved in them.
  • Will we maintain our integrity when no one is looking?
  • Will we choose joy even when our circumstances go from bad to worse?
  • Will we posture ourselves for forgiveness or vengeance?
If you are in a time of waiting, ask God to soften your heart and identify any areas where you might have seeds of bitterness taking root. Ask Him to transform you from the inside out so that He can do His healing work. He never forgets us. He sees us and longs to help us through the seasons when it seems like we are waiting to be remembered.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I want to wait on You. Help me not to jump out ahead of You. During seasons of waiting, I want to go deeper in my walk with You. I love comfort, Jesus, but help me to value character even more. Grow me through my difficulties and give me eyes to see the bigger picture of what You are doing in my life.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

What area in your life feels like a season of waiting? What are some practical steps you can take today to draw nearer to God and reimagine your trials in the light of His goodness?

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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Daily Devotion August 21, 2017 "No Matter the Circumstance ~ Count on Christ!"

Count on Christ! That's the message of our lesson for today.

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

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

"No Matter the Circumstance ~ Count on Christ!"

August 21, 2017

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession." Jesus did not answer a word. ...

Count on Christ! That's the message of our lesson for today. In this lesson we see a woman who is at the end of her rope. She's a loving mother who had a very sick daughter, and the Bible says that her daughter was troubled by a demon. Her world was in chaos.

When the world in all its chaos gets very real, then the uniqueness of Jesus shines even more clearly. That's what this lady understood. No matter what she was facing, Jesus was here, and that made all the difference for her.

Her faith in Him made all the difference too because in her mind He would do what was best for her and for her daughter. To that end her persistent faith demonstrates that you can count on Jesus, even when you can't count on anything else.

You can count on Jesus when all else fails; you can even count on Him when He seems silent for a time. Why? The cross and the resurrection demonstrate publicly what He thinks about you and what He wants for us.

So even when Jesus is silent, or even when He appears to be unconcerned, the woman of this text says don't you believe it. He loves you and will do what is best.

Back to the lesson. Hey! In fact, what about Jesus' responses? He seems to put her off; He seems to mildly insult her. Why would He do such a thing?? It seems so unlike Him.

Some say His silence -- or later His even somewhat rebuke -- some say that was to deepen her faith and trust in Him.

I say no it's much more than that. It's to exhibit her faith, to demonstrate her faith for all to see -- especially those of us today who might be having a hard time with what we think God is doing for us or not doing for us at the moment.

Her faith was a shining example for those present and for us today. She was in essence saying, "Whatever you do for me, Jesus, it will be best for me. I can put my trust in You alone. So I'm committing my life, my daughter's life, to You. Period."

Some people think the woman's faith caused Jesus to act. That misses the whole point too. She knew the depth of the mercy of this Jesus who stood before her. He was the one that David longed to see. He was the one that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob yearned for. He was the Lord, the Master who brings God's mercy to her and to all.

She was bold in her response. She said, "I have a Master who treats me with mercy!"

Jesus, You know, if You want to call me a house dog, I'm okay with it. It means I'm a part of Your house. You're my Lord, I'm with You. I'm no stray. I'm not on my own. I'm with You, and that's all right."

You see everyone in the world, we all have a master, but most people go searching for love and peace and happiness in other sinful people or in inanimate things. They try to go it on their own, but they don't realize His crumbs are better than everyone else's filet mignon.

• Lord, if only Your crumbs -- that's enough for me.
• If only Your loving touch -- I will rest secure.
• If only Your simple word -- I will be satisfied.

Wow! I wish I could have seen Jesus' face. I think He couldn't wait to bless her trust in Him. Jesus is overjoyed at such confidence in Him, and that's what He wants for you today, too!

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, let this woman be an example to all of us of faith's persistence to engage You as the source of our very lives, now and forever! Amen.

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

CPTLN Devocional de 21 de Agosto de 2017

Alimento Diario


21 de Agosto 2017

Puso en mis labios un nuevo canto, un canto de alabanza a nuestro Dios. Muchos vieron esto y temieron, y pusieron su esperanza en el Señor.
~ Salmos 40:3 (RVC)

Cada vez que grabo un mensaje que luego será transmitido por radio, me pregunto: "¿será que alguien lo va a escuchar?" Esa sólo es una de las muchas preguntas que normalmente me hago.

Aun cuando sé bien que los resultados son producto de la obra del Espíritu Santo, no puedo dejar de preguntarme si habrá alguien que disfrute del mensaje, o si todos los que lo escuchan se aburren con lo que digo.

Sí usted está entre los millones de personas aburridas que existen en el mundo, debe saber que una revista médica británica ha publicado un artículo sobre cómo dormir sin que nadie lo note. Estas fueron las instrucciones que dieron:
  1. Ponga los brazos sobre la mesa, y descanse la cabeza sobre el trípode formado por su cuerpo y los brazos. 

  2. Sosténgase la cabeza con las manos y flexione ligeramente el cuello, para evitar roncar. 

  3. Los dedos deben estar extendidos sobre la cara y los ojos presionando la piel de la frente hacia arriba, lo que le dará una expresión de suma concentración.

Me pregunto si es por eso que las iglesias tienen asientos con respaldo en vez de bancos.

Lo cierto es que cada día nos encontramos con muchos mensajes que nos aburren. Comerciales, deportes, noticias, el informe del tráfico, hasta las cifras del mercado de valores pueden ser aburridas. Pero el mensaje sobre las buenas nuevas de la salvación que Dios nos da, es diferente.

Cada día pecamos y cada día necesitamos el perdón que Jesús ganó para nosotros en la cruz y en su tumba vacía. La alegría de saber que nuestros pecados han sido perdonados es suficiente para vencer el aburrimiento.

Cristo ha resucitado y nos ha salvado. Por la gracia de Dios podemos continuar nuestras vidas diciendo: "Gracias, Señor." Y gracias a las buenas nuevas de Dios, podemos también reflejar la luz de Jesús a aquellos cuyos corazones están hundidos en la oscuridad.

ORACION: Padre celestial, gracias por enviar a tu Hijo a construir un puente entre tú y yo. Ayúdame a entender la inmensidad de su sacrificio y la grandeza de la salvación que ha logrado para mí. En su nombre. Amén.

© 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.