Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Daily Readings for SUNDAY, August 27, 2017 - 12th Sunday after Pentecost

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
Opening Sentence
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
~ Phillipians 1:2

Sunday Morning Prayer
God, as you gave us the sun to lighten our days, so you have given us your Word to lighten our minds and our souls. I pray that you will pour out on me your Spirit as I pray today, that my heart and mind may be opened to your Word, and that I may learn and accept your will for my life.

Shine within my heart, loving God, the pure light of your divine knowledge; open the eyes of my mind and the ears of my heart to receive your Word, this day and always, Amen.

Confession and Forgiveness
God is light; in him there in no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and son not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
~ John 1:5b-8

Most holy and merciful Father, We confess to you and to one another, that we have sinned against you by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not fully loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not always had in us the mind of Christ. You alone know how often we have grieved you by wasting your gifts, by wandering from your ways. Forgive us, we pray you, most merciful Father; And free us from our sin. Renew in us the grace and strength of your Holy Spirit, for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

Today's Readings

The First Reading is taken from Isaiah 51:1-6
[Blessings in Store for God’s People] Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the LORD. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many. For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples. I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.

Psalm 138 Confitebor tibi
1   I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing your praise.
2   I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your Name, because of your love and faithfulness;
3   For you have glorified your Name and your word above all things.
4   When I called, you answered me; you increased my strength within me.
5   All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD, when they have heard the words of your mouth.
6   They will sing of the ways of the LORD, that great is the glory of the LORD.
7   Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly; he perceives the haughty from afar.
8   Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe; you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
9   The LORD will make good his purpose for me; O LORD, your love endures for ever; do not abandon the works of your hands.

The Second Reading is taken from Romans 12:1-8
[The New Life in Christ] I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-- what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

The Holy Gospel is written in Matthew 16:13-20
[Peter’s Declaration about Jesus] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.


Click HERE to read today's Holy Gospel Lesson message

Continuous Reading Track
Exodus 1:8-2:10
[The Israelites Are Oppressed] Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them. The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, "When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live." But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?" The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them." So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live."

[Birth and Youth of Moses] Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, "This must be one of the Hebrews' children," she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?" Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Yes." So the girl went and called the child's mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, "because," she said, "I drew him out of the water."

Psalm 124 Nisi quia Dominus
1   If the LORD had not been on our side, let Israel now say;
2   If the LORD had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us;
3   Then would they have swallowed us up alive in their fierce anger toward us;
4   Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over us;
5   Then would the raging waters have gone right over us.
6   Blessed be the LORD! he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
7   We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8   Our help is in the Name of the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

The Apostle's Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

Prayer of the Day
Father of mercy, your love embraces everyone, and through the Resurrection of your Son you call me and all who pray with me into your wonderful light. Dispel our darkness and make us a people with one heart and one voice, forever singing your praise, in Jesus, the Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of St. Denis
You are wisdom, uncreated and eternal, the supreme first cause, above all being, sovereign Godhead, sovereign goodness, watching unseen the God-inspired wisdom of Christian people.

Raise us, we pray, that we may totally respond to the supreme, unknown, ultimate, and splendid height of your words, mysterious and inspired.

There all Your secret matters lie covered and hidden under darkness both profound and brilliant, silent and wise.

You make what is ultimate and beyond brightness secretly to shine in all that is most dark.

In your way, ever unseen and intangible, You fill to the full with most beautiful splendor those souls who close their eyes that they may see.

And I, please, with love that goes on beyond mind to all that is beyond mind, seek to gain such for myself through this prayer. Amen.

A Prayer for Mission
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.


A Beautiful Life
The Florida Boys

Let us bless the Lord. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God! Alleluia!

Closing Prayer
Now the God of patience and consolation grant to me, and to all who pray in the name of Christ, to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

“A Bunch Of Questions” The Sermon for SUNDAY, August 27, 2017 - 12th Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 16:15
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

“A Bunch Of Questions”

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

Life is full of questions, Questions abound everywhere. What am I going to do with my life? What will I be? Will the kids turn out all right? What will tomorrow bring?

Not only do these practical question beg for an answer, but also questions concerning my spiritual life. Am I saved? When I die will I go to heaven? Why does God allow such tragedy to exist on the earth?

Then there are the philosophical questions, which comes first the chicken or the egg, how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. Or the one I liked in my philosophy class in college was," If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it fall, does it still make a noise?"

We could go on and on. All of these questions have one common element to them which is illustrated by the following story: "A college sophomore tried to prove how smart he was one day by asking his professor the following question, "Is the bird I’m holding dead or alive?" If the professor said the bird was dead, the boy was going to free the bird and let it fly away; if the professor said it was alive, the boy was going to to crush the bird. The professor looked at the boy and said, "My boy, the answer is in your hands."

The common element with all questions is that the answer can and does lie with us. We can search for the answers to most questions. We can find it ourselves or we can surrender the question and the answer to someone else, namely God. But we can do something with all the questions of life and their answers.

I began talking about questions because this morning our gospel lesson and the second lesson pose some questions for us. In the gospel lesson, Jesus asks the disciples two questions: "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?" & " But who do you say that I am?"

These questions beg for answers from us this morning. Let us see if the answers lie in our hands.

In our gospel lesson Jesus asks the disciples what they have heard about about him. Jesus is taking a survey or a Gallup Poll. He hears the answers of the disciples, then He gets close and personal as He asks the disciples,"But who do you say that I am?" Then Peter, good old Peter, responds for the group of disciples by saying: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." In his answer, Peter was saying a whole lot about Jesus. He was saying that he knew Jesus was more than John the Baptist, more than a prophet like Elijah, he knew Jesus was connected to God Himself. So, Peter calls him Saviour, Lord, son of God. Peter knew Jesus was unique, Peter knew Jesus was more than a man with dirty hair, a wrinkled face, dusty feet and soiled clothes, more because this man, who was at the same time God, had changed him. Peter was coming to trust and believe in Jesus more and more. Peter saw past the man and saw the divinity hidden in Jesus so he could cry out, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

I would like to illustrate this idea with a story.

"An organist was practicing one day in a great church in Europe. A man came up to the organ and asked if he could play. The organist looked at him and thought to himself. I shouldn’t let this man play, just look at him, he is unshaven, his clothes are soiled, he looks like a bum. So he told the man no. But the unkempt stranger asked again and again. Finally the organist let him play thinking he couldn’t play very long, for what does a bum know about organs. The bums fingers danced over the keyboard in a way the organist hadn’t heard in his lifetime. The stranger played on and on. The organist was spellbound.

When the stranger got up to leave, the organist could not contain himself and shouted, "Who are you, what is your name?"

As the stranger, who looked like a bum slowly walked away, turned over his shoulder and said, "My name is Felix Mendelssohn."

The organist gasped. He said to himself, "I almost did not let the master play."

In the same way, do you and I see Christ in the kind deeds of others, do we see Christ in the words of comfort offered during trouble, do we see Christ in someone who we regard as less or not as good as we are? Peter saw the divinity in the man Jesus and I wonder if we see and feel the divinity of Christ today?

We can miss seeing Jesus who is all around us and in each of us, because at times we get so caught in the exterior stuff of our faith that we cannot see the God that is beyond all of that stuff to the God who is active, living, and interested in our individual lives.

"Who do you say that I am?" asks Jesus. The answer lies in your hands?

The next few verses of this text are sometimes confusing. Some people say that the rock that Jesus built the church upon is Peter. So the Roman Catholic then says that the successors to peter are the modern Popes.

But some people say that the Rock Jesus is building the church upon is Peter’s confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Peter came to that conclusion because He saw in Jesus something more than a man, something more than a teacher, something more than prophet, something more than a healer, Peter saw in Jesus the image of God.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Can you say that about Jesus? Can you make that confession of faith in your life? "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The Rock, beloved, is Peter’s confession. The Rock is faith that sees Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the Living God. The Rock is a confession which looks to the Cross and only to the Cross for forgiveness. The Rock is hope of eternal life based on the empty tomb Jesus left after his Resurrection. The Rock is living daily in the forgiveness that God gave to us in our Baptism. The Rock is trusting in God to keep us and strengthen us with the very Body and Blood of his Son. The Rock is Jesus. And upon it the Church is built. And the gates of hell will never ever ever prevail against it!

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." It is that confession that gave us the church. It is that confession that gives the grace of Christ to the world. It is that confession that allowed missionaries to spread the word of God through the world. It is that confession that allows you and I to live our everyday lives in the forgiving power of Christ through the cross of Calvary and the Easter Resurrection.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." It is that confession that allows us to handle the brokenness of this world. As we confess that in Jesus is the image of God, we can rely on his grace and mercy to live in this broken world.

It is that confession of Peter’s, that confession that we make daily for ourselves, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.", that gives us the hope and the assurance that one day we will experience the power of the Easter Resurrection.

A closing story says it well:

Dr. W. A Criswell, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas Texas, said on one occasion on an airplane flight he found himself seated beside a well-known theologian. He desperately wanted to start a conversation and they did get to talk. The man told Dr. Criswell about how he had recently lost his little boy through death. Dr. Criswell listened as he told his story: He said he had come home from school with a fever and we thought it was just one of those childhood things, but it was a very virulent form of meningitis. The doctor said we cannot save your little boy. He’ll die.

And so this seminary professor, loving his son as he did, sat by the bedside to watch this death vigil. It was the middle of the day and the little boy whose strength was going from him and whose vision and brain was getting clouded said, "Daddy, it’s getting dark isn’t it?" The professor said to his son, "Yes son it is getting dark, very dark." Of course it was very dark for him. He said, "Daddy, I guess it’s time for me to go to sleep isn’t it?"

He said, "Yes, son, it’s time for you to go to sleep."

The professor said the little fellow had a way of fixing his pillow just so, and putting his head on his hands when he slept and he fixed his pillow like that and laid his head on his hands and said, "Good night Daddy. I will see you in the morning." He then closed his eyes in death and stepped over into heaven.

Dr. Criswell said the professor didn’t say anymore after that. He just looked out the window of that airplane for a long time. Then he turned back and he looked at Dr. Criswell with the scalding tears coming down his cheeks and he said, "Dr. Criswell, I can hardly wait till the morning."

"Who do you say that I am? "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The answer lies in your hands!

Amen

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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. Sermon shared by Rev. Tim Zingale on Aug 15, 2005.

Prayer of the Day for SUNDAY, August 27, 2017


Father of mercy, your love embraces everyone, and through the Resurrection of your Son you call me and all who pray with me into your wonderful light. Dispel our darkness and make us a people with one heart and one voice, forever singing your praise, in Jesus, the Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Verse of the Day for SUNDAY, August 27, 2017


Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Read all of Isaiah 26

Listen to Isaiah 26

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 - La pobreza del alma


Cumple los mandatos del Señor tu Dios [...] Así prosperarás en todo lo que hagas y por dondequiera que vayas.
~ 1 Reyes 2:3 (NVI)

Sin duda, todos sabemos que hay ricos y pobres. Las clases sociales han existido toda la vida.

En el mundo se acepta muy bien esta frase que hasta forma parte de una canción: «Cuanto tienes cuanto vales». No obstante, cuando tú y yo conocemos el camino, la verdad y la vida, nos damos cuenta de que estábamos muy equivocados.

El Señor en su Palabra nos dice que cuando lo aceptamos a Él y lo reconocemos como nuestro Salvador, nos convertimos en hijos de Dios y, a su vez, coherederos con Cristo. Además, nos dice que será nuestro Proveedor y nuestro Guardador, prometiéndonos prosperarnos y bendecirnos.

En ninguna parte de la Palabra se habla que debemos permanecer en pobreza o que debemos llegar a un estado de conformismo. Sin embargo, en mi viaje misionero pude ver de cerca, y sé que pasa en todo el mundo, que hay personas que aunque son libres porque conocieron a Jesús, viven con una mentalidad de pobreza absoluta. Creen que al estar así en medio del abandono van a agradar más a Dios o le van a conmover su corazón.

¡Qué equivocados están! A Dios lo mueve la fe y nuestros pasos confiados en Él. Lo mueve, como ya dije, la obediencia.

Por eso hoy te invito a que te sacudas de la tierra de la pobreza, pues Dios quiere bendecir tu vida. Te invito a que renuncies a estructuras que te hacen pensar que no se puedes ser tan próspero como Jesús. Abandónate en sus brazos y déjate consentir por tu Padre celestial.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - REFINER’S FIRE


“…I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”

In 2004, my colleague and friend Dr. Jim Cunningham was in Ethiopia teaching Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS). His teaching assignments took him to the far western province of Gambella where many Christians of the Anuak tribe had been killed in recent fighting. The believers there told him about one of their pastors, Okok Ojula, who was in prison in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Okok had been head of the Bureau of Social Rehabilitation in Gambella. He was falsely accused of corruption and taking three million Ethiopian Birr. No evidence was presented so the trial was moved to Addis—three days away by bus—to a federal court. He had been sitting in jail for two years waiting for a trial date to be set! His wife Nuno and their six children were patiently waiting back in Gambella. They asked Jim to visit Pastor Okok in prison.

Jim went to the Administrator’s Office of the main federal prison back in Addis to try and see Pastor Okok. “Why do you want to see him?” the administrator asked. Jim responded, “Because I was in Gambella, met his wife Nuno and their six children and I told them I would come and give him greetings from them.”

He replied rather directly, “Why do YOU want to see him?” Jim looked him in the eye and said, “Okuk is a Christian and a pastor in Gambella, I am a Christian and a pastor in Canada. I want to meet him and pray with him!” At that moment the administrator’s countenance changed. He turned to Jim and said, “You may meet him next door in the Deputy Administrator’s office.”

Okuk was brought in for forty-five minutes—with coffee provided—and they shared and prayed together! It was a great time of blessing for both men.

After three and a half years, Okuk was released from prison as a free man completely exonerated. He then shared with Jim by mail that he had earlier conformed his life around serving the Lord, resuming his education at the highest level, doing research work, and other valuable good things to help people. But he had never thought of imprisonment at any time. Time was very precious to him and he never thought of wasting it in prison sitting under a hostile situation. But having been in prison he learned many lessons.

Commenting about Moses’ burning bush, he said, “Prison to me, is a place where the Lord can appear to us in flames of fire to refine us—but never ‘burn us up.’ I see that the Lord is more concerned with our perfection obtained through walks in all levels of patience, endurance, character, and hope in order to expel fear and self-centeredness in our lives—and prepare us to see and believe that He is God Almighty as He appeared to Moses. He intends for us not to put Him in our little box to use Him as an instrument to suit our release from the prison. [Rather] patience, endurance, character, and hope have to finish their work to perfection.”

RESPONSE: Today I will accept that God may have to put me through the refiner’s fire to perfect me.

PRAYER: Lord, build patience, endurance, character and hope into my life in Your way and purpose.

LHM Daily Devotion - August 27, 2017 "Jesus, the Best Friend"

Humans were created to be social creatures.

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour



"Jesus, the Best Friend"

August 27, 2017

He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
~ Psalm 144:2 (ESV)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our international ministry centers to write our Sunday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.

In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Humans were created to be social creatures.


That means most of us feel more comfortable when we have family, friends, and acquaintances conveniently handy. Because we are social, friendship becomes an important part of a full and fulfilled life. Although it is not always the case, the vast majority of us who have close friends and family are happier and better adjusted than those who do not.

Having counted some of the benefits of having close friends and family, we also have to confess there are times when, they can cause us pain.

Some months ago I met a very successful young man who was smart enough to have finished high school early. Not only was he intelligent and well educated, he was also a son who was respectful to his parents.

Since he was too young for college, he took a sabbatical year. It was his intention to enter college with others of his own age.

Sadly, that year out of school wasn't all that positive an experience. This young man, along with his friends, became regulars at parties where the liquor would flow freely. True, they always chose a designated driver whose responsibility was to stay sober and deliver them home at the end of the evening.

Unfortunately, the inevitable happened.

A driver, far under the influence of alcohol, crashed into the young people's vehicle. It was a great accident, which totaled the car. The young man of our story took the brunt of the car's force and ended up in the hospital.

Fearing concussion, the doctors kept their young patient for a few days. They observed him as he drifted out of consciousness. Eventually, his alertness and intelligence came back. One of the first things he realized was this: his friends weren't there. Questioning the nurses he found they had never bothered to stop by.

That's when he realized it was Jesus who was his most faithful and necessary Friend.

From that time on, our young man kept being turned to the Savior. There were opportunities when he visited with others who were suffering. Because of what he had learned, he was able to comfort them at the most difficult times of their lives.

Today our young man is allowing me to share his story with you. He wants you to know, to understand, that God gave us His Son to win forgiveness of sins and make it possible for us to be adopted into the family of faith. Here we will receive the ongoing blessings bestowed by the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit who is always with us.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank You for offering Your Son, Jesus Christ, as my Savior, protector and shield to the problems of life. Thanks be given for my best Friend, in whose Name I pray. Amen.

Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by Marcela Padilla. She recently joined our Nicaragua ministry center as a volunteer. She met us during a Christian drug prevention talk we gave at the school where she studies. Immediately afterward, she stopped in to find out more about our ministry. Soon after that she became part of our team. Today she is actively spreading the message of Christ among the youth of her district and other places which we visit.

Lutheran Hour Ministries-Nicaragua is known in-country as "Christ for All Nations" or Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones in Spanish. Launching its Gospel efforts in Chinandega in 1999, LHM-Nicaragua offers Project JOEL, an educational program helping children and young people make healthy lifestyle choices. High school and university students benefit from this program as well. Offering Equipping the Saints (ETS) evangelism workshops to facilitate Gospel conversations and Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC) to build up and edify students of Scripture, inroads are being made into people's lives with the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. Based today in León, this ministry center produces a weekly radio broadcast and 30-second on-air spots. These are augmented with "Radio Cristo Nica," an internet and radio program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and helping others in this Central American country of six million people.

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