Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, September 23, 2017

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

Confession of Sin

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Morning Prayer

Heavenly God, may I have peace within, this day;
May I trust God that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
May I not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May I use those gifts that I have received, and pass on the love that has been given to me.
May I be confident knowing I am a child of God.
Let this presence settle into my bones, and allow my soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. This I pray in Christ's name,

~ St. Therese of Lisieux

The Lessons

A reading from 2 Kings 2:1-18
Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?" And he said, "Yes, I know; keep silent." Elijah said to him, "Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho." But he said, "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?" And he answered, "Yes, I know; be silent." Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." But he said, "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha said, "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." He responded, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not." As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, "Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. When the company of prophets who were at Jericho saw him at a distance, they declared, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." They came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. They said to him, "See now, we have fifty strong men among your servants; please let them go and seek your master; it may be that the spirit of the LORD has caught him up and thrown him down on some mountain or into some valley." He responded, "No, do not send them." But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, "Send them." So they sent fifty men who searched for three days but did not find him. When they came back to him (he had remained at Jericho), he said to them, "Did I not say to you, Do not go?"

A reading from 1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, "Nothing beyond what is written," so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?

A reading from Matthew 5:17-20
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Morning Psalms
Psalm 75 Confitebimur tibi
1   We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks, calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds.
2   I will appoint a time, says God; I will judge with equity.
3   Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking, I will make its pillars fast.
4   I will say to the boasters, 'Boast no more, ' and to the wicked, 'Do not toss your horns;
5   Do not toss your horns so high, nor speak with a proud neck.'"
6   For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west, nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains.
7   It is God who judges; he puts down one and lifts up another.
8   For in the LORD'S hand there is a cup, full of spiced and foaming wine, which he pours out, and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and drain the dregs.
9   But I will rejoice for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10   He shall break off all the horns of the wicked; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Psalm 76 Notus in Judæa
1   In Judah is God known; his Name is great in Israel.
2   At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling is in Zion.
3   There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of battle.
4   How glorious you are! more splendid than the everlasting mountains!
5   The strong of heart have been despoiled; they sink into sleep; none of the warriors can lift a hand.
6   At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and rider lie stunned.
7   What terror you inspire! who can stand before you when you are angry?
8   From heaven you pronounced judgment; the earth was afraid and was still;
9   When God rose up to judgment and to save all the oppressed of the earth.
10   Truly, wrathful Edom will give you thanks, and the remnant of Hamath will keep your feasts.
11   Make a vow to the LORD your God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared.
12   He breaks the spirit of princes, and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Evening Psalms
Psalm 23 Dominus regit me
1   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
2   He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
3   He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
4   Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5   You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6   Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 27 Dominus illuminatio
1   The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?
2   When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh, it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who stumbled and fell.
3   Though an army should encamp against me, yet my heart shall not be afraid;
4   And though war should rise up against me, yet will I put my trust in him.
5   One thing have I asked of the LORD; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;
6   To behold the fair beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
7   For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling and set me high upon a rock.
8   Even now he lifts up my head above my enemies round about me.
9   Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation with sounds of great gladness; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
10   Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
11   You speak in my heart and say, "Seek my face." Your face, LORD, will I seek.
12   Hide not your face from me, nor turn away your servant in displeasure.
13   You have been my helper; cast me not away; do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.
14   Though my father and my mother forsake me, the LORD will sustain me.
15   Show me your way, O LORD; lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.
16   Deliver me not into the hand of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and also those who speak malice.
17   What if I had not believed that I should see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
18   O tarry and await the LORD'S pleasure; be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the LORD.

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
For we are bought with a price: therefore let me glorify God in my body, and in my spirit, which are God’s.

O cleanse me from my secret fault, and keep your servant from presumptuous sins. Amen.

A Collect for Saturdays
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

Our “Saturday Oldie” is a tribute to “Miss
Gospel Music,” Doris Akers, shortly
before her death in 1995. She sings a
version of her most famous hit, Sweet,
Sweet Spirit, now #334 in the United
Methodist Hymnal.
Sweet, Sweet Spirit
Doris Akers

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

Closing Prayer
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.
~ 2 Corinthians 13:14

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

Prayer of the Day for SATURDAY, September 23, 2017

For we are bought with a price: therefore let me glorify God in my body, and in my spirit, which are God’s.

O cleanse me from my secret fault, and keep your servant from presumptuous sins. Amen.

Verse of the Day for SATURDAY, September 23, 2017

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Read all of Romans 5

Listen to Romans 5

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 - C. S. Lewis on How to Handle Beggars

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On Lewis’s own rule for assisting panhandlers; and on the suffering and eternal destiny of animals.

26 October 1962

I do most thoroughly agree with your father’s principles about alms. It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been ‘had for a sucker’ by any number of impostors: but it would be a torment to know that one had refused even one person in need.

After all, the parable of the sheep and goats makes our duty perfectly plain, doesn’t it? Another thing that annoys me is when people say ‘Why did you give that man money? He’ll probably go and drink it.’ My reply is ‘But if I’d kept [it] I should probably have drunk it.’ . . .
~ from “The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II

Lord, let me always remember the sheep and the goats. Amen.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

Seeking God?
Click HERE to find out more about how to have a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers

How to Handle Beggars

Un Dia a la Vez - La bendición da felicidad, no tristeza

Tuya es, Señor, la salvación; ¡envía tu bendición sobre tu pueblo!

Si volteas la página y vuelves a leer el versículo de ayer, te darás cuenta que Dios afirma en su Palabra que su bendición enriquece y no da tristeza.

Quizá esta sería una buena prueba para nosotros y así poder estar seguros de que lo que Él nos da es perfecto. Además, que Él es el único que conoce el tiempo en que nos debe dar sus bendiciones y que no se equivoca, pues las conoce desde la eternidad.

Es normal que tengamos sueños que se convertirán realidad y otros que no pasarán de ser sueños o caprichos que no están en los planes de Dios. Lo que sí te puedo garantizar es que lo mejor para nuestra vida son los sueños que nos da nuestro Padre celestial, ya que Él sabe lo que nos hará felices.

Aprendamos a esperar ese día en que llegue la bendición. Sentirás paz, gozo y un gran respaldo espiritual. Entonces, gozarás en verdad de ese regalo y te sentirás feliz.

Lo más hermoso de todo esto es que siempre Dios tratará de cumplir tus más profundos anhelos para verte feliz.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - SIMPLICITY OF THE CHURCH

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Rene looked carefully both ways as he turned the corner. No one seemed to be watching. Wiping the perspiration from his forehead he glanced at his watch. He was five minutes early. He walked slowly around the block a second time to arrive at the large gate at exactly 7:14. He pressed the bell three times: short...long...short. It was the newly changed code to indicate he was a fellow-believer. The gate opened and closed quickly as Rene slipped inside. In two hours time there were several hundred believers gathered secretly in the basement for fellowship.

Rene sat quietly waiting for the others. He remembered reading in a magazine about a small group in China that gathered weekly in the back room of a small store to worship together. It was the era of the infamous Cultural Revolution. Since the believers could easily be overheard by anyone entering the store, they “sang” hymns together without words or music. Someone whispered the name of the song and they would silently move their lips and simply think of the words and music.

He chuckled out loud. The memory came of Pastor Wally saying, “We are an underground church like the believers behind the Bamboo Curtain, but the difference is that we can praise in full voice because the facilities are sound proofed. Not even our closest neighbour can hear us.”

This is a description of a church group in Saudi Arabia - a country that has not had an official church in over fourteen hundred years. And yet many believers meet together secretly and at great risk all over the country.

The most common way for the church to express its faith in western societies has been through the institutional pattern. Consequently, this is the only pattern with which many Christians are familiar. But this form can be easily eliminated by a repressive government, is difficult to maintain in other hostile environments, and may not be appropriate to local cultural needs. There are other options if you and your fellow believers were under the rule of those who were trying to repress Christianity.

RESPONSE: Today I will accept that there are many forms of church to fulfill the five biblical functions of the church.

PRAYER: Pray for those around the world who must meet in secret for worship services.

NIV Devotionals for Couples - Finding the Best of Times

Revelation 21:1–27

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Marriage can be like the days of the French Revolution, immortalized in the words of Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities—“the best of times and the worst of times.”

In the best times of marriage, we can’t get enough of each other. We breeze through workdays, knowing we can be together afterward. We spoon our bodies in the night, delighting in how well we fit together. We cook special things for each other. We reach for each other’s hands in church, show each other off to friends, get high at the sound of each other’s voice on the phone.

We crave each other in the hard times too: when our parents decide to divorce, when a close friend is diagnosed with cancer, when one of us loses a job, when we have a miscarriage, when someone betrays us. We ease the hurt by holding each other tight and letting the tears fall, by reading passages of Scripture together, by linking hearts and hands in prayer. Somehow just being together fortifies us in the times when we ache and hurt.

In the worst of times, we lose each other. He flirts with a waitress, making his wife feel invisible. She goes on a spending spree at the mall, sabotaging the budget her husband so carefully worked out. He works late night after night; she spends too much time with friends. Even at church the togetherness is lost as she goes to choir, while he goes to Bible study. She has meetings that leave him sitting alone; he is so busy talking to others that he barely notices she’s gone. Even when together, spouses can be alone. They stay home for the night, but he’s upstairs watching a football game, while she’s downstairs trotting on the treadmill. Or during dinner, she’s replaying a work problem in her head, while he’s reading the paper.

Whatever the reason, failing to connect becomes a kind of living death. The warmth, the passion, the closeness between us cools until it seems we’re only going through the motions of marriage. Then something, somehow, prods us into reaching for each other again: Maybe it’s a sermon that cuts truth like a knife into our hearts or a friend who begins asking questions about our relationship or a work associate whose problems become too personal. Then things can really heat up between us—this time with anger, accusations, threats and tears. The pain is excruciating, but if we work through it (sometimes with professional help), we can find each other again in a new kind of love, one that’s forged in the fire and ashes of repentance and forgiveness. Then the tears we drop are ones of relief, gladness and joy.

One day we will stop crying for good. After we pass through the final vale of separation from each other, God himself will wipe our faces clean of tears. Then he will usher us into glory, where we will be so united with him, so one with him, that there will never again be a need for tears. The best times of marriage, in all their passion and delight, are a prelude to that.

Phyllis Ten Elshof

Let’s Talk
  • What are some times when we felt the most togetherness? What helped fuel those times? When have we felt most alienated from each other? What brought us back together? What are some practical ways we can work together that will keep us close?
  • Is either of us sometimes uncomfortable with too much intimacy? What do we do when we feel crowded into closeness? How do we get some space without offending each other?
  • How does closeness and intimacy with God affect our relationship with each other?

LHM Daily Devotion - September 23, 2017 "More Than a Number"

You remember the old song with the lines: "He's making a list, checking...

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour

"More Than a Number"

September 23, 2017

(Jesus said) "Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows."
~ Luke 12:7 (ESV)

You remember the old song with the lines: "He's making a list, checking it twice, going to find out who's naughty or nice"?

Most people assume this song is speaking of our old friend, Santa. This devotion would not do anything to dispute that opinion.

On the other hand, that song's verse could also be speaking of the business company, Equifax.

Now even if you haven't heard of Equifax before, that doesn't mean Equifax hasn't heard of you. They know you and are watching to see if your spending habits are naughty or nice. That means Equifax has

• the numbers which say if you are delinquent in making your payments;
• the numbers which say how much you owe and how long you've owed it;
• the numbers which say you have too many open accounts, and
• the numbers of your credit cards and the unpaid balance on each.

Along with that information, Equifax also has other numbers, numbers like

• your address, your phone, your email and
• your Social Security card number.

Yup, Equifax knows just about every number about you which is worth knowing. About the only thing Equifax doesn't know is how to keep your information safe, secure, and away from prying eyes. Which is why, within the last month, they had to report that the private information of about 143 million individuals had been stolen by cyber thieves.

Now I've said Equifax may know a lot about you, but the truth is they don't know everything.

For example, Equifax doesn't know the number of the hairs on your head. Equifax doesn't, but God does. Equifax doesn't know the number of sins you have committed or the number of good things you have left undone. Equifax doesn't know if you are lost or saved, but God does.

And that's one of the greatest differences between the Lord and that company.

To the Lord you are not a compilation of numbers and statistics.

No, to Him you are a soul worth saving.

To that end the Lord Jesus Christ entered this world and offered Himself as the sacrifice which would forgive and rescue all who are brought to faith. His glorious resurrection from the dead says the thieves who had stolen you from your Lord have been put in their place and never again can destroy your rating with the Lord.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord I give thanks that in spite of knowing me and my sins, You decided to save me. Now I ask that You will use believers to share salvation's story. May the numbers of lost and unbelievers go down, and the crowd of those destined for heaven go up. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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