Friday, September 15, 2017


Life is a journey filled with lessons, hardships, heartaches, joys, celebrations and special moments that will ultimately lead us to our destination, our purpose in life. The road will not always be smooth; in fact, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges.

Some of these challenges will test our courage, strengths, weaknesses, and faith. Along the way, we may stumble upon obstacles that will come between the paths that we are destined to take. In order to follow the right path, we must overcome these obstacles.Sometimes these obstacles are really blessings in disguise, only we don't realize that at the time.

Along our journey we will be confronted with many situations, some will be filled with joy, and some will be filled with heartache. How we react to what we are faced with determines what kind of outcome the rest of our journey through life will be like.

When things don't always go our way, we have two choices in dealing with the situations. We can focus on the fact that things didn't go how we had hoped they would and let life pass us by, or two, we can make the best out of the situation and know that these are only temporary setbacks and find the lessons that are to be learned.

Time stops for no one, and if we allow ourselves to focus on the negative we might miss out on some really amazing things that life has to offer. We can't go back to the past, we can only take the lessons that we have learned and the experiences that we have gained from it and move on. It is because of the heartaches, as well as the hardships, that in the end help to make us a stronger person.

The people that we meet on our journey, are people that we are destined to meet. Everybody comes into our lives for some reason or another and we don't always know their purpose until it is too late. They all play some kind of role. Some may stay for a lifetime; others may only stay for a short while.

It is often the people who stay for only a short time that end up making a lasting impression not only in our lives, but in our hearts as well. Although we may not realize it at the time, they will make a difference and change our lives in a way we never could imagine. To think that one person can have such a profound affect on your life forever is truly a blessing. It is because of these encounters that we learn some of life's best lessons and sometimes we even learn a little bit about ourselves.

People will come and go into our lives quickly, but sometimes we are lucky to meet that one special person that will stay in our hearts forever no matter what. Even though we may not always end up being with that person and they may not always stay in our life for as long as we like, the lessons that we have learned from them and the experiences that we have gained from meeting that person, will stay with us forever.

It's these things that will give us strength to continue on with our journey. We know that we can always look back on those times of our past and know that because of that one individual, we are who we are and we can remember the wonderful moments that we have shared with that person.

Memories are priceless treasures that we can cherish forever in our hearts. They also enables us to continue on with our journey for whatever life has in store for us. Sometimes all it takes is one special person to help us look inside ourselves and find a whole different person that we never knew existed. Our eyes are suddenly opened to a world we never knew existed- a world where time is so precious and moments never seem to last long enough.

Throughout this adventure, people will give you advice and insights on how to live your life but when it all comes down to it, you must always do what you feel is right. Always follow your heart, and most importantly never have any regrets. Don't hold anything back. Say what you want to say, and do what you want to do, because sometimes we don't get a second chance to say or do what we should have the first time around.

It is often said that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. It all depends on how one defines the word "strong" It can have different meanings to different people. In this sense, "stronger" means looking back at the person you were and comparing it to the person you have become today. It also means looking deep into your soul and realizing that the person you are today couldn't exist if it weren't for the things that have happened in the past or for the people that you have met. Everything that happens in our life happens for a reason and sometimes that means we must face heartaches in order to experience joy.

~ Shannon Spaunburg

The Daily Readings for FRIDAY, September 15, 2017

John the Baptist and the Pharisees
Opening Sentence
The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.
~ John 4:23

Confession of Sin

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

Morning Prayer
Father, Thank You for each and every day You have blessed us here on earth.
Thank You for Your tender mercies.
Thank You for giving us friends and family to share joys and sorrows with.
I ask You to bless my friends, relatives, brothers and sisters in Christ and
those I care deeply for, and especially those who are praying with me right now.

Where there is joy, give them continued joy.
Where there is pain or sorrow, give them your peace and mercy.
Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence.
Where there is need, fulfill their needs.
Bless their homes, families, finances, their goings and their comings.
In Jesus' name,

The Lessons

A reading from 1 Kings 18:20-40
[Elijah’s Triumph over the Priests of Baal] So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets number four hundred fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the LORD; the god who answers by fire is indeed God." All the people answered, "Well spoken!" Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it." So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response. Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come closer to me" and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, "Israel shall be your name" with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." Then he said, "Do it a second time" and they did it a second time. Again he said, "Do it a third time" and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water. At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God." Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape." Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

A reading from Philippians 3:1-16

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.
[Breaking with the Past] To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh-- even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
[Pressing toward the Goal] Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

A reading from Matthew 3:1-12
[The Proclamation of John the Baptist] In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Morning Psalms
Psalm 40 Expectans, expectavi
1  I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2  He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
3  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
4  Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.
5  You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.
6  Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
7  Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8  I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
9  I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
10  I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
11  Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
12  For evils have encompassed me without number; my iniquities have overtaken me, until I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.
13  Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me.
14  Let all those be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire my hurt.
15  Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”
16  But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17  As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.

Psalm 54 Deus, in nomine
1  Save me, O God, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.
2  Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
3  For the insolent have risen against me, the ruthless seek my life; they do not set God before them.Selah
4  But surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5  He will repay my enemies for their evil. In your faithfulness, put an end to them.
6  With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7  For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Evening Psalms
Psalm 51 Miserere mei, Deus
1  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4  Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
5  Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6  You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
11  Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
14  Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15  O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16  For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17  The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18  Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19  then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

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
Dear heavenly Father, I pray this day for all angry, hostile people, all those filled with hate for their fellow creatures; for violent criminals who harm the body, for those who hurt their family members, for bullies on playgrounds and sadists in charge of others; and for the many more who, through their angry words, ideas, and grudges, promote discord, misunderstanding and violence, and especially all those who contribute to the great wars that kill and hurt so many.

Dear God, show them the beauty of your peace and grant that they may love others so much that they cannot bear to harm them, both for their own sake and that of those they hurt. And help their many victims, saving them, comforting them, and granting them to know your Son Jesus Christ so well that they can forgive. In whose name I pray, Amen.

A Collect for Fridays
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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 pretty setting of Ave Maria by Pietro
Mascagni, sung by the wonderful Sissal.
Ave Maria
Sissel Kyrkjebø

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

Closing Prayer
The blessing of the Lord rest and remain upon all his people, in every land, of every tongue; the Lord meet in mercy all that seek him; the Lord comfort all who suffer and mourn; the Lord hasten his coming, and give us, his people, the blessing of peace. 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 FRIDAY, September 15, 2017

Dear heavenly Father, I pray this day for all angry, hostile people, all those filled with hate for their fellow creatures; for violent criminals who harm the body, for those who hurt their family members, for bullies on playgrounds and sadists in charge of others; and for the many more who, through their angry words, ideas, and grudges, promote discord, misunderstanding and violence, and especially all those who contribute to the great wars that kill and hurt so many.

Dear God, show them the beauty of your peace and grant that they may love others so much that they cannot bear to harm them, both for their own sake and that of those they hurt. And help their many victims, saving them, comforting them, and granting them to know your Son Jesus Christ so well that they can forgive. In whose name I pray, Amen.

Verse of the Day for FRIDAY, September 15, 2017

1 John 4:16 (NIV) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Read all of 1 John 4

Listen to 1 John 4

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 - Daring to Obey

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
~ Acts 9:17 (NLT)

Saul of Tarsus . . . his very name would have sent chills down the spines of followers of Jesus. Yet God spoke to a believer named Ananias and said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now” (Acts 9:11).

This was Saul, the hunter of believers, the killer of Christians. We certainly could understand the reticence of Ananias. Yet I love his response: “So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit’” (verse 17).

Did Saul ever, in a thousand years, think he would hear a Christian call him “Brother Saul”? But what a difference a day makes—or even an hour makes.

There will be times when God will put a burden on your heart to approach a certain person or say a specific thing or go to a specific place. You have a choice in the matter: you can go, or you can not go. God came to the prophet Jonah and told him to go to the city of Nineveh and announce his judgment against it. But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction. You can be a Jonah, or you can be an Ananias.

Ananias is truly an unsung hero of the Christian faith for doing what he did. He never preached any sermons that we know of. We don’t read of any miracles being performed through his hands. He never wrote an epistle. But he did reach someone who did all of those things and more.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation®, NLT® copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Devotion by Greg Laurie © 2017 Harvest Christian Fellowship; all rights reserved.
God called him to do the unthinkable. And he did.

Un Dia a la Vez - Recibe a Jesús en tu corazón

Todo el que invoque el nombre del Señor será salvo.

Hace quince años me hicieron esta pregunta: «¿Quieres recibir a Jesús en tu corazón?». Siempre llevo en mi corazón el agradecimiento por esa persona que fue el instrumento que Dios usó para que llegara a sus caminos. Fue paciente, nunca juzgó mi vida, ni mi condición. Por el contrario, fue sabio al llevarme a la iglesia junto con mis princesas. ¡Gracias, Juancho!

Sé que muchos de ustedes ya hicieron esa decisión, pero les pido que en este momento oren dondequiera que estén por las personas que hoy por primera vez están a punto de contestar esta importante pregunta.

Es posible que hayas entendido el sacrificio de amor que hizo Dios por la humanidad al entregar a su único Hijo Jesús para que muriera por nuestros pecados en una muerte de cruz. Tal vez hayas entendido que Dios te ofrece el perdón de tus pecados si le reconoces como tu Salvador. Sin embargo, el Manual de Instrucciones dice que nadie llega al Padre sino es por medio de su Hijo Jesucristo y que para salvación debe haber confesión. Déjame decirte que esto no es cambiar de religión, sino comenzar una relación personal con Él.

Si quieres recibir a Jesús en este día, solo tienes que leer en voz alta esta oración: «Señor Jesús, me presento delante de ti porque reconozco que soy pecador. Te pido, mi Dios, que perdones mis pecados. Hoy abro mi corazón y te recibo como el único y verdadero Salvador de mi vida. Entra en mi corazón. Transforma mi vida. Perdóname, Señor, y escribe mi nombre en el Libro de la Vida. En el nombre de Jesús, amén y amén».

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - LOVE FOR THE BRETHREN

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Salim Manayer who heads a significant reconciliation ministry in Israel between Israeli believers and Palestinian believers tells this story in his newsletter of learning about true love for others in the body of Christ during a visit to Denmark:

I experienced something so beautiful. The love and acceptance of the Messiah through the lives of the people who took me around, opened up their homes, took me shopping, took care of me when I was sick and took time out of their busy lives to drive me from one end of the country to the other. I was so moved by their kindness, their hospitality, their compassion, their honesty and their love. Through long country drives they shared and explained to me their reasoning for various traditions and teachings.

And who were these people? Well, if you want to get technical they were Lutherans. Lutherans who belong to the state church – many of them pastors. Yes, we are different – I am an Israeli believer who does not hold to these traditions, but we are called to love each other in spite of our differences. Put all of these labels aside, these amazing people were my brothers and sisters, they are my family because we belong to the family of God and they embraced me as their family.

I was moved as I sat around the kitchen table drinking coffee after confirmation class with one pastor and while eating apple crisp on Rosh Hashanah with another pastor, attentively listening to them as they shared their passion to see the lost people in their communities and parishes find God and believe in him. It left an impression on my heart and encouraged and inspired me to reach the people in my own community.

Sometimes stereotypes and prejudices are there in the back of your head and you don’t realize it until God places those same people you held stereotypes about in your face and they begin to show you the love God requires of his children…

Maybe I was sent to Denmark to impress upon, encourage, challenge and impart to the Danish believers to become reconcilers in their local communities; to bless them and show them that it is possible to break down the walls of bitterness and hatred, demolish their stereotypes and prejudices and to love their brothers and sisters. And yet, that is exactly what they taught me.

RESPONSE: I commit this day to show true love to my brothers and sisters breaking down prejudices.

PRAYER: Lord, I need Your help today to follow Your command to love all my brothers and sisters.

Men of the Bible - Joseph

His name means: "May He [God] Add"

His work: Joseph was a working man who supported his family through the trade of carpentry.
His character: A man who traced his ancestry back to David, Joseph was just, compassionate, and obedient to God. Though poor, he was a good husband and father, providing for and protecting his family.
His sorrow: That Herod the Great tried to murder his son, Jesus.
His triumph: To be used by God to protect and provide for the world's Savior. Through him, Jesus could trace his ancestry to King David and the tribe of Judah.
Key Scriptures: Matthew 1-2; Luke 2

A Look at the Man

Three times Joseph saw angels in his dreams. In the first appearance, the angel announced something impossible: Mary had become pregnant, though she had not been unfaithful to him. In the second, the angel warned him to flee to Egypt to escape Herod's plan to murder the boy Jesus. Later, an angel sounded the all clear, informing Joseph of Herod's death so that he could return to Israel with Mary and Jesus.

Though we know little of Joseph from the Scriptures, we know at least of his remarkable faith and obedience. Each time the angels appeared to him, they revealed something he could not have known without divine revelation. But each new revelation presented him with a choice. Would he do as the angel instructed, or would he rely on his own understanding and do as he thought best? It would have been so easy to brush off the first dream. When in the history of the world had a woman ever become pregnant without sleeping with a man? Common sense would have told him to proceed with his plan to set Mary aside and marry someone else. Instead, he heeded the angel and, by doing so, said yes to God's surprising plan for his life.

Did Joseph comprehend the enormity of the decisions he was making? Possibly. But certainly he could not foresee the strange mixture of blessing and suffering that lay in store for him and his family. His yes would cost him many sleepless nights, but it would also involve him in the greatest miracle ever.

Centuries later we celebrate Joseph's life, knowing that he was everything a father should be—spiritually perceptive, compassionate, humble, faithful, loving and protective toward the family the Lord had given him.

Reflect On: Genesis 39:1–5 (This is an account of another Joseph, but the similarities between these two obedient men and God’s gracious blessing is striking.)
Praise God: For offering a love that constrains us to obedience.
Offer Thanks: For blessing you with the responsibility of leading and directing the lives of young people—children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors.
Confess: Your sin and willful disobedience.
Ask God: To give you a heart that is drawn to him in love and compliance to his perfect will and to empower you in the task of leading these young ones in his ways.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (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. Coming this fall: watch for Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler.

Girlfriends in God - September 15, 2017

Love at First Fight

Today’s Truth

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.

Friend to Friend

Like all relationships, the marriage relationship has a certain dynamic. If one person changes, then the whole relationship will change. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate making personal change. It is hard work and more often than not, extremely painful! So when it comes to the marriage relationship, I attempt to make sure that it is my husband who does all of the changing instead of me. Unfortunately, that tactic is not only contradictory to God’s plan for marriage, but it never works and inevitably leads to frustration and friction in the home.

In every relationship, but especially in marriage, God calls us to encourage one another and build each other up. During our first year of marriage, I approached my relationship with my husband, Dan, kind of like I would contemplate buying an old house. I couldn’t wait to see it remodeled! And I was just the one who could draw up the plans and do the demolitions work.

I focused on those things I did not like about my husband and tried desperately to change him. But the harder I tried, the more “set” those things I wanted changed seemed to become.

I finally realized that my efforts were in vain and my motives impure. The ugly reality was that I simply wanted Dan to be more like me - when what I should want is for him is to be more like God.

Everyone needs encouragement. At the heart of of encouragement is acceptance. It is important to understand that acceptance and approval are two entirely different things.

We need to accept and celebrate the differences in each other instead of trying so hard to eliminate them. We can be different without being right or wrong. Differences can rip us apart or add great flavor to the relationship. Differences fill in the “gaps” we all have.

Many times the things that we try so hard to change in our husbands are the very things that we once found attractive. He once was carefree, but now he is irresponsible. When we first met, he was determined, but now he is stubborn. He used to be more concerned about inward qualities than outward appearances, but now he is just plain sloppy!

I wonder what would happen if we made the deliberate choice to unconditionally accept our husband – as is?

How would our marriage relationship and the health of our home be affected if we took the energy that we waste trying to change each other and used it to change ourselves?

How would your husband respond if you became his biggest fan and looked for ways to encourage him every single day? We all need a cheerleader! Every husband ought to be able to trust his wife and what she says about him. Ladies, don’t criticize your husband to your friends, your children, or to other family members. Instead, be his biggest fan and most loyal encourager.

I know what you are thinking. What about me? I need to be encouraged just as much as my husband does. I could not agree more! And the amazing thing about encouragement is that it is cyclical. It always comes back to you. The more you give, the more you receive.

It is impossible to out-give God. The One who loves us unconditionally, accepts us just as we are, and encourages us every step of the way is calling us to do the same for each other. He longs for the world to see Him and His stubborn love at work in our homes and marriages.

The question is - are we willing to change?

Let’s Pray

Dear Father, I come to You today, asking You to forgive me for my critical spirit and rigid heart. I lay down my expectations and agenda for my marriage. Today, please help me build up my husband and encourage him toward You. Give me the strength to accept him just like he is. Please pour Your unconditional love through me. Please work in me, in my marriage, and in my home so that others can see you.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Make a list of the good things you see in your husband. Read that list every day this week, thanking God for each one. Every day, encourage your husband in some way; write him a note, call him at work just to tell him that you love him, or show up at his office to take him to lunch.

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LHM Daily Devotion - September 15, 2017 "Real Wisdom"

Somewhere along the line, many people have concluded that when the...

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour

"Real Wisdom"

September 15, 2017

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness."

Somewhere along the line, many people have concluded that when the light of faith goes on in a person's heart, the light of knowledge in their brain has to be put out.

Now, you should know, nowhere in Scripture does God condemn the acquisition of knowledge. It is only when experts elevate human knowledge over godly wisdom -- that's when they become foolish.

Now understand, I have a deep appreciation of human knowledge.

Because Sir Alexander Fleming saw the curative possibilities of penicillin in a Petri dish, I survived pneumonia when I was five. The knowledge of Jonas Salk and his team offered our children freedom from polio. Other smart folks have given our households microwave ovens, automobiles, light with the flip of a switch, central air-conditioning, Band-Aids®, computers, nail clippers, CDs, and videos to preserve family memories.

No, God isn't against human knowledge. He who gave us brains to think is pleased when we put them to use. But when earthly experts elevate human knowledge over God's wisdom, they become foolish.

Take a look at the Bible. I'll show you what I mean.

Adam and Eve were intelligent enough to name and, I suppose, remember the names of all the Creator's creatures. God asked them to do that. But when the first family thought they were experts and elevated their wishes above God's will, they got into trouble.

Before the flood, God had no problem with humans using their intelligence to subdue the earth. He said that was their responsibility. But when those humans thought they were wise enough to put their pleasure seeking above God's wisdom, the Lord was greatly grieved (see Genesis 6:5-6).

The Lord was glorified by many of the things His prophet Moses did. But when Moses thought himself an expert -- wise enough to improve upon God's plan to give water to the wandering Israelites -- things did not go well (Numbers 20:5).

Time and again, Scripture tells us that when a man thinks he is expert enough and has wisdom enough to displace God, the Lord turns the tables. When experts elevate human knowledge over godly wisdom, they become foolish.

And what should we do to become truly wise? That's simple: trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't lean on your own smarts (see Proverbs 3:5-6). Believe Him when He says that Jesus is the only way of salvation (see John 14:6). Trust Him when He says that there is no other Name under heaven which can save (see Acts 4:12). Rely on His Word which tells us "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from every sin" (1 John 1:7b).

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, many thanks to You for giving us the ability to think. Forgive us for those times when we might think we know more than You. Grant us a spirit of humility and respect to You for Your many graces and gifts. This I ask in the Name of Him who is the greatest gift of all. Amen.

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

CPTLN Devocional de 15 de Setiembre de 2017

Alimento Diario

Escuchando a Dios

15 de Setiembre 2017

¿Por qué no entienden mi lenguaje? Pues porque no pueden escuchar mi palabra.

Son muy pocas las personas que ponen en práctica el mensaje que el Señor Jesucristo nos enseñó.

Muchos de nosotros desde niños hemos aprendido acerca de las buenas noticias de Jesucristo, de cómo murió en la cruz y luego resucitó para perdonar nuestros pecados. Esas buenas noticias fueron escritas por los discípulos y apóstoles, predichas por los profetas del Antiguo Testamento, e impresas en nuestro corazón por el Espíritu Santo.

Sin embargo, Jesús sabía muy bien cuánto nos costaría recibir su Palabra. Ya por naturaleza no entendemos la forma en que él habla, pero a través del Espíritu Santo podemos conocerlo y confiar en él para nuestra salvación. Y, por supuesto, es la Palabra de Dios la que lleva al perdón y a la vida eterna a todos los que creen.

Por eso es esencial para nuestro crecimiento espiritual que leamos y estudiemos su Palabra. Y es mejor aún si lo podemos hacer junto con otra persona, así podemos compartir inquietudes y necesidades. Cuanto más conocemos y comprendemos la Palabra de Dios, más fácil se nos hace reconocer la voz de Jesús y responderle. Jesús dijo: "Mis ovejas oyen mi voz; yo las conozco y ellas me siguen" (Juan 10:27).

ORACIÓN: Querido Dios, gracias por bendecirnos y permitirnos escuchar tu mensaje de amor a través de tu Hijo Jesucristo. Amén.

Biografía del autor: Esta devoción fue escrita por un voluntario de la oficina de Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones en Nicaragua.

© 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.