Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Daily Readings for SUNDAY, October 22, 2017 - 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?
Daily Readings for
SUNDAY, October 22, 2017

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

Confession and Forgiveness

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

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

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

The Psalm
Psalm 96:1-13
1   Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the whole earth.
2   Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.
3   Declare his glory among the nations and his wonders among all peoples.
4   For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; he is more to be feared than all gods.
5   As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; but it is the LORD who made the heavens.
6   Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence! Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!
7   Ascribe to the LORD, you families of the peoples; ascribe to the LORD honor and power.
8   Ascribe to the LORD the honor due his Name; bring offerings and come into his courts.
9   Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him.
10   Tell it out among the nations: "The LORD is King! he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity."
11   Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that is therein.
12   Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the LORD when he comes, when he comes to judge the earth.
13   He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with his truth.

The Lessons

A reading from Isaiah 45:1-7
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him-- and the gates shall not be closed: I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the LORD do all these things.

A reading from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead-- Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

A reading from Matthew 22:15-22
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Here ends the Readings.


Click HERE to read today's Holy Gospel Lesson message

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
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.

But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Amen.
~ St. Nikolai of Ochrid


Holy God, we praise Thy Name
Irish Philharmonic Chorus

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

Closing Prayer
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.
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.

"Living In The Tension Of Two Kingdoms" - The Sermon for SUNDAY, October 22, 2017 - 20th Sunday after Pentecost

"Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then [Jesus] said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's."
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
~ Matthew 22:15-22


"Living In The Tension Of Two Kingdoms"
by Rev. Ronald Harbaugh
St. John's Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Greenville, Pennsylvania 

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The air had to be thick with tension! Jesus had entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey amidst the shouts of hosannas. He had gone to the temple and drove out the moneychangers and merchants, to the dismay of the chief priests and elders. No longer could his ministry be relegated to some distant phenomenon that was taking place in the small towns and countryside in the region of Galilee. Jesus had brought his teachings and ministry into the center of Israel’s faith.

As a result, into the tension that already existed between Israel and their occupation by Rome, a polarization was quickly developing among the people in regard to Jesus. Although many of the common people viewed Jesus as a prophet, others, especially those who held positions of power and authority, viewed Jesus’ teachings and actions as subversive and inflammatory.

So, the Pharisees plotted to entrap Jesus. And the trap could not have been better staged. According to our lesson, Matthew tells us that the Pharisees took with them some Herodians. The Pharisees and the Herodians were on different sides of the issue that they planned to put before Jesus.

The Pharisees were devout Jews who strove to live by the law of Moses, and as a result of their piety of faith, they were critical of the Roman oppression, especially to the idea of paying taxes to support Caesar, since they considered him to be evil. After all, Caesar considered himself to be divine, and what pious Jew could bring himself to support through their taxes such a blasphemer.

The Herodians, on the other hand, were supporters of Herod, and tended to support Rome from whom Herod gained his authority. They were a group of Jews who had compromised their faith and piety, in order to win favors from the governing forces. Thus, the Herodians were in favor of paying taxes to Rome.

So these two groups, representing both sides in the tension that existed between Rome and Israel, come to confront Jesus. And how they tried to sweeten Jesus up for the kill. Just listen to their hypocrisy! “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality.” Although all of this is true, coming from the mouths of those who set out to entrap Jesus, it’s enough to make you sick.

Then came the question. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” The trap had been set. If Jesus answered “No,” the Herodians, who enjoyed the benefit of Roman rule, would report him to the authorities as a traitor or seditionist. If Jesus answered “Yes,” the Pharisees would have ample fuel to discredit him among the people as a Roman sympathizer, a person unfaithful to Israel.

But Jesus saw through their ploy to entrap him, and their sickening sweet attempt at flattery. And Jesus had the wisdom to escape their trap. He asked to see the coin used to pay the tax. Jesus is handed a denarius, a small silver coin of Roman issue. This coin “bore a portrait of the reigning emperor crowned with a laurel wreath, the sign of divinity. It also bore the inscription, ‘Tiberius Caesar, majestic son of the majestic God, and High Priest.’” End quote.

Can you see why the question of paying taxes to Rome was such a contentious issue at that time? Even the coin that was used to pay the tax, not only bore the image of Caesar, it also claimed him to be divine. For the Pharisees, and for the early Christians, it was viewed as paying homage to Caesar, akin to acknowledging him as divine – a denial of their faith.

Of course, the Herodians, who may not have acknowledged Caesar to be divine, overlooked the inscription, in favor of the political benefits that they received from Rome. Even though they may have professed to be children of Israel, they adapted to the ways of the world, and in the process, compromised their faith.

So Jesus asks those who tried to entrap him, “Whose head is this, and whose title? They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” And Matthew tells us that “when they heard this, they were amazed, and went away.”

In other words, Jesus turned the table on both sides of the issue, and challenged both the Pharisees and the Herodians – without answering the question. For the Pharisees, who found the inscription on the coin that Rome had issued to be so offensive to their faith, he simply said, give it back to Caesar. And to the Herodians, who had compromised their faith in order to gain political favor and power, he said, give to God the things that belong to God.

However, the fact that Jesus was able to avoid the entrapment that the Pharisees and Herodians posed to Jesus, does not resolve the tension for us. In fact, his response only serves to lift our awareness of the tension in which we must live our lives, as citizens of what Martin Luther has termed “The Two Kingdoms.”

The first part of his answer tells us that even as people of faith, who are heirs of the kingdom of God through our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, we have a responsibility to return to Caesar the things that are Caesars. In other words, as long as we are citizens of this world, we have a responsibility to the governing authorities of our nation, our state, our county and our community.

And I believe that Jesus means more than simply paying our taxes, in support of the various benefits that result from living as a citizen of our country. Governments also ask for our allegiance. Governments have the right to establish laws to regulate our life as we live in community with one another, and to have the authority to enforce them. They may even, in the time of war, ask us to come to the defense of our country by serving in the armed forces.

On the other hand, as disciples of Christ, who have been redeemed by his death and resurrection, we must also acknowledge that we are children of God’s kingdom, to which our ultimate allegiance belongs. After all, God is the source of our very existence, to whom we owe our very life. If we are to “give to God the things that are God’s,” then we can only conclude that we owe God, and God alone our worship and praise for his gift of creation, for our life and all that sustains it, and his grace that has redeemed us and claimed us as his own.

Thus, Jesus’ response to the question that was meant to entrap him, traps us all! We live as citizens of two kingdoms – an earthly kingdom, to which we owe certain allegiances, and a heavenly kingdom, to which we owe everything. Jesus’ response doesn’t really settle the dispute between the Herodians and the Pharisees, any more than it settles the conflict that each of us encounters, as we try to live out our faith today.

Rather, Jesus invites us into the struggle. He invites us to acknowledge that our government has a right to expect a certain allegiance from us, but that we should never allow our government to distort or compromise our faith and allegiance to God. Jesus’ answer says “Give to Caesar what belongs to him, but no more than what belongs to him.”

Over my life span, I have seen our government move away from the moral fabric supported by the Judeo-Christian faith. And I have seen, even within the church, this struggle, this tension between our allegiance to the state, and our allegiance to God, being manifest. And although the issue of homosexual marriage is hot topic at the moment, it is just one of the issues.

The fact is, as Christians, we are in the midst of this struggle, this tension of living in two kingdoms. And since Jesus did not answer the question, neither will I. But I pray that God’s Spirit might lead us all to first come to acknowledge that to God belongs our first allegiance, and upon this, the Spirit might lead us to take our faith seriously. For upon this, the future of the church rests.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you sent your Son into our world to reveal your will for our lives and to redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to embrace Jesus in faith, that we might truly be his disciples, and acknowledge him as our Lord and Savior. Above all, guide us in our lives, as we struggle to live with the tension of belonging to two kingdoms. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. 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. Ronald Harbaugh on Oct 18, 2008.

Prayer of the Day for SUNDAY, October 22, 2017


Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.

But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Amen.
~ St. Nikolai of Ochrid

Verse of the Day for SUNDAY, October 22, 2017


Proverbs 15:23 (NIV) A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!

Read all of Proverbs 15

Listen to Proverbs 15

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 sal de la tierra


La sal de la tierra

Ustedes son la sal de la tierra. Pero si la sal se vuelve insípida, ¿cómo recobrará su sabor? Ya no sirve para nada.
~ Mateo 5:13 (NVI)

La frase «la sal de la tierra» siempre me pareció un tanto extraña. Incluso, cuando llegué a los caminos de Dios, no entendía por qué en su Palabra se decía que somos la sal de la tierra. Más tarde, Dios mismo me dio la manera más sencilla y fácil de entenderla y practicarla.

La sal es un ingrediente clave para darle sabor a la comida, pero tiene un especial cuidado: Debe tener un término ideal para sazonar y no para salar. ¿Quién resiste la comida salada?

La Palabra dice que en los tiempos de Jesús la sal venía del Mar Muerto y estaba llena de impurezas, de modo que perdía algo de su sabor. Es posible que digas: «¿Qué tiene que ver esto con mi vida espiritual?».

Pues bien, Dios nos compara con la sal en la tierra porque tenemos esa preciosa labor de darles sabor con su Palabra a los que no conocen a Jesús. Por otro lado, a nosotros nos sucede lo mismo que a la sal con impurezas que se utilizaba en Israel. Por eso necesitamos ser puros para darles ejemplo a otros. Además, si nos enfriamos en la Palabra y nos volvemos insípidos, ¿cómo daremos sabor?

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - THE GLORY OF HEAVEN


THE GLORY OF HEAVEN

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Suffering and persecution turn our hearts and minds to the glory that will be ours in heaven. Jesus promises a great reward in heaven to those who suffer (Matthew 5:12). Paul says above that the sufferings of the present are not worthy to be compared with the glory of the future, and Peter agreed (I Peter 1:6, 7; 4:13; 5:1-10). A Christian song when I was growing up says, “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.” Those that are living today as spiritual “refugees” look longingly toward the eternal home.

Hebrews chapter eleven helps us to understand the history of this. In the first part of the chapter which is the “hall of faith” we see faith examples of power, life and vitality. Then in verse thirty-five the list changes to those who lost their lives—some through horrendous persecution. Yet all were commended for their faith.

In his book The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus comments about this:

All of them chose and walked the barbarian way, and they were blessed because they did not fall away on account of Jesus. They trusted Jesus with their lives, and they lost their lives on the journey. If you could interview any one of them, however, each would insist that even in the midst of suffering and hardship, he was most fully alive. They were not disappointed in God because they did not misunderstand who He was. They understood His call, and they chose it willingly. John the Baptist would join their number. Some barbarians survive the night in the lion’s den; others experience their darkest night and wake in eternity.[1]

RESPONSE: Today I will rejoice in the glory of heaven that awaits and makes my suffering insignificant.

PRAYER: Help me Lord to remember during the challenges I face here, that eternity with You is infinitely better.

1. Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005), p. 41.

LHM Daily Devotion - October 22, 2017 "The Provision Specialty"

Times are tough. No one even knows where their next meal is coming from...
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour




"The Provision Specialty"

October 22, 2017

(The Lord said) "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you."
~ 1 Kings 17:9 (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


Times are tough. No one even knows where their next meal is coming from.

These were the circumstances facing Elijah, but he didn't lose hope. Elijah knew God, and he knew God's voice when he heard it: "Go to Zarephath. I have instructed a widow there to feed you." So Elijah set off to find the woman and invite himself to dinner.

It soon turned out God was going to have to perform a minor miracle if Elijah was going to be fed that night.

The widow let him know that she didn't have a single piece of bread (see 1 Kings 17:12). But Elijah wasn't put off. He delivered God's Word: "There will always be plenty of flour and oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!" (see 1 Kings 17:14).

Sure enough, God fulfilled His promise to provide.

Here are three powerful lessons in this text:

(1) When you need it, God's provision is in place.
(2) The people God uses might surprise you.
(3) Our bad time is God's opportune moment.


This lady was all set to have her last meal on earth.

When God's work has a need, He looks for someone with a seed, stretches their faith, and both the giver and God's work are blessed.

You see, one of God's names is "Jehovah-jireh," which means "God will provide." He will provide, but He'll often wait till we are totally dependent on Him, before we see how He will do His work.

THE PRAYER: Lord, guide my steps in every action and especially when I am lost and afraid. In this troubled world, help me put You first in my life and follow the narrow path that leads to You. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by Michel Matar. He has experienced life to the full, trying everything from drugs and alcohol to the occult. He is a well-known musician with several CDs to his credit. In 1989, he was touched by the love and forgiveness of Jesus. When he started reading the Word of God on a daily basis, his addiction and perverse lifestyle were over. He has not turned back. After his conversion, he studied LHM's Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC) and became a close friend of Middle East Lutheran Ministry (MELM). With life, music and talents, Matar serves the Lord. He volunteers his time and talent to help us in recording and editing radio programs. He is married to Nuna, and they have served the Lord together since their conversion. They have five lovely children and live in Brummana, Lebanon.

Established in Beirut in 1950, LHM-Lebanon is a Christian mass media organization whose mission is to proclaim the Gospel to the Arabic-speaking world. This ministry center shares the message of God's peace and reconciliation in the Middle East through different media tools such as radio programs, which are produced weekly in the Arabic language. Programs deal with social and religious issues, providing help and spiritual guidance for listeners who are predominantly youth and young adults. Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC), topical booklets, text messages, social media, DVDs, and spiritual hymns strengthen the faith of students, encouraging them to walk closer with Jesus. Holistic assistance is provided to many Muslim families and Bedouin communities through vacation Bible schools and programs that deliver clothing and school supplies to children. Emergency care is also given to numerous Syrian and Iraqi families who have come to Lebanon from their countries, as they flee various conflicts in their homelands.

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