Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Our prayers go out to the victims and families of the 5 people killed and 2 elementary school students wounded in another senseless act of gun violence today near Red Bluff, Northern California.
Merciful Lord, we come to you again, heavy hearted after another shooting, for we have heard the cries of the slain calling to us from the ground. We come remembering all the lives lost to the weapons of war that have flooded our communities. We come reminded of the many bodies locked in jails and prisons all across this country. And we ask for your mercy.
Although we find ourselves in a broken world – a world in which hurting people hurt other people, it is no mystery that you are a God capable of healing our world through justice and fairness. Your own revelation has shown us that you stand firmly with those people whose backs are against the wall. Your own life demonstrates how you came from heaven to earth to redeem creation, our communities and our own lives. So we ask for this same redemptive power to be unleashed among us as it was on the day of Pentecost. May we be empowered by your Spirit to reverse the conditions that produce young men and women who are driven to resort to violence and destructive behavior in their fight to stay alive and struggle to remain free.
We know that you have no pleasure in the death of anyone, so we boldly come to the throne of grace today dear Lord, seeking your wisdom as we create strategies that provide pathways and lifelines to hope and healing. Help us to remember we are all your children, created in your image, and we are connected by a single garment of mutuality and destiny. Cause us to never forget how our needs are the same and our calling to address these needs are the same.
We cry out to you, heal our souls from this scourge of violence. Endow us with the courage to step down from the pulpits and out from behind our desks to seek the peace of the city. In the coming days and weeks as our leaders debate solutions, Lord we ask that you grant us the voice to speak truth power and demonstrate sacrificial compassion to the hurting.
Teach us your ways, O God. Bless us with the wisdom and strength to put down our swords and be peacemakers. Use us, work through us and, if necessary, work in spite of us to mend our nation’s brokenness.
We thank you for your protecting embrace and unfailing love.
All of these requests we bring to you, in the name of Jesus the Christ we pray.
|‘Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ - Matthew 15:27|
"Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their backs and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. Therefore you gave them into the hands of their enemies, who made them suffer. Then in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hands of their enemies. But after they had rest, they again did evil before you, and you abandoned them to the hands of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them; yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you rescued them according to your mercies. And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your ordinances, by the observance of which a person shall live. They turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years you were patient with them, and warned them by your spirit through your prophets; yet they would not listen. Therefore you handed them over to the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. "Now therefore, our God-- the great and mighty and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love-- do not treat lightly all the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings, our officials, our priests, our prophets, our ancestors, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until today. You have been just in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly; our kings, our officials, our priests, and our ancestors have not kept your law or heeded the commandments and the warnings that you gave them. Even in their own kingdom, and in the great goodness you bestowed on them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you and did not turn from their wicked works. Here we are, slaves to this day-- slaves in the land that you gave to our ancestors to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts. Its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins; they have power also over our bodies and over our livestock at their pleasure, and we are in great distress." Because of all this we make a firm agreement in writing, and on that sealed document are inscribed the names of our officials, our Levites, and our priests.
And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, "Alas, alas, the great city, Babylon, the mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come." And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves-- and human lives. "The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your dainties and your splendor are lost to you, never to be found again!" The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, "Alas, alas, the great city, clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!" And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, "What city was like the great city?" And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out, "Alas, alas, the great city, where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in one hour she has been laid waste." Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgment for you against her.
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
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.
Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of your law, so that we might know our sin, and your Son, that we might be forgiven where we fall short. Give me the grace to remember your holy Word, when my surroundings tempt me to confusion and weakness, that I might more nearly approach true obedience to your will. Help me to resist the arguments of the ungodly; let me not be deceived by false beauty; and so guide me, that the clever words of men will never replace the truth which you have put into my heart. Through Christ I pray,
New International Version (NIV)
[Instructions for Christian Households] Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Read all of Ephesians 5:21
Listen to Ephesians 5:21
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
~ Mark 15:4-5 (NIV)
Having the attribute of restraint, is not a common quality seen in people. I, myself, have done things, and said things, that I wish I could take back. Unfortunately, once the act is performed, or the words are spoken, it is there for all to see and hear. An apology may help, but the harm has already been committed.
I know my weaknesses, and have been ashamed. There have been times, when someone cut me off in traffic, and I became angry; times when someone was rude, and I had no trouble letting it be known; times when someone was unfair, and I spoke my mind, before I had all the facts; and times when someone acted in a way that I felt was inappropriate, and I became accusatory or judgmental.
I confess, this is one of my ugly, sinful qualities, and God has forgiven, and helped me in this area, yet I know, I am not alone. Many today, feel as if it is so important to have their rights be known, even when someone is being hurt in the process. It is extremely easy to mouth off, but takes much more strength and character to be silent.
Let’s look at the example of Jesus. He was being unfairly blamed, but He showed restraint, and said nothing. He was being insulted, and called names, but He never retaliated. He was being poked, prodded and beaten, but He did nothing. Some may think, well, He was God, so it was easy for Him to remain silent. But the scriptures clearly tell us, He was tempted in every way.
We must remember, that He came in human form, so He knows exactly the ways we are tempted. If we think that it did not cross His mind to wave His arm and annihilate all of His accusers, I think we might be wrong. If we think that He was not tempted to flee the scene, or come down from the cross, we could possibly be wrong. The extreme pain of the nails going into His hands, could have become nothing, with just a spoken word from His mouth, but He chose restraint, submission, and great love for the human race.
If Jesus set this great example of restraint, couldn’t we learn from that? Had we been in Jesus’ shoes, while being accused, spit on, called names, and under harsh contempt, I think, most of us would have spoken out for our rights. With the help of God and His Holy Spirit indwelling in us, we can tap into His strength of restraint, and truly put others first, or we can at least learn to hold our tongues until a more Christ-like solution is implemented.
Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Showing restraint, and submitting to one other, is one way we can give our praise of deep respect to the Lord for all He has done for us. If we all were in the business of shutting our mouths, showing restraint, and loving like Christ, just imagine the peace we would have in this world. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can control ours, through Christ.
Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of your law, so that we might know our sin, and your Son, that we might be forgiven where we fall short. Give me the grace to remember your holy Word, when my surroundings tempt me to confusion and weakness, that I might more nearly approach true obedience to your will. Help me to resist the arguments of the ungodly; let me not be deceived by false beauty; and so guide me, that the clever words of men will never replace the truth which you have put into my heart. Through Christ I pray, Amen.
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Had we been in Jesus’ shoes, while being accused, spit on, called names, and under harsh contempt, I think, most of us would have spoken out for our rights.
No te irrites a causa de los impíos ni envidies a los que cometen injusticias; porque pronto se marchitan, como la hierba.
~ Salmo 37:1-2 (NVI)
No te sientas mal cuando sientan envidia de ti. ¿Sabes? Eso siempre lo he visto como una buena señal. Cuando llamamos la atención, es porque estamos haciendo algo que les inquieta a los demás. Claro, esto es bueno cuando hacemos lo recto.
La envidia se conoce también como celo o codicia. Es algo horrible, pues no puedes brillar con luz propia debido a que no quieres ser tú mismo. Te frustras a menudo porque no resistes que a las otras personas les vaya mejor que a ti.
También la Palabra de Dios nos orienta a que no sintamos envidia de los impíos, de los que no le conocen. No debemos envidiar sus triunfos ni sus riquezas, pues nosotros tenemos el mejor regalo que es la vida eterna. Además, contamos con todas las promesas a fin de tener prosperidad y bendición.
Sé que muchos nos quejamos y decimos: «Bueno, ¿por qué esta persona sale adelante y le va súper bien si no conoce de Dios, no se congrega, ni obedece sus mandamientos?».
¡No te dejes confundir! Dios te dice que muchos de ellos morirán sin conocerle.
Por lo tanto, es mejor que no lo tengamos todo, sino que lo tengamos a Él y la salvación.
Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
IT IS HARDER TO LIVE FOR JESUS
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…”
~ Matthew 16:24 (NIV)
Jesus’ first call to those interested in Him was “Come and see!” (John 1:39). As His disciples spent more time with Him, Jesus’ call became more demanding and required more commitment.
Here He calls those who would be His disciples to make the ultimate sacrifice and “Come and die!”
Jesus was the last person Sundar Singh was looking for as a late teenager in India at the turn of the 20th Century. After all, Jesus was the “foreign god” of the Christian teachers at his school. A zealous Sikh, Sundar had publicly torn up a portion of the Bible to protest its claims. One night as he prayed he became conscious of a light shining in the room. He looked outside to make sure it was not someone shining a light. Gradually the light took the form of a globe of fire and in it he saw the face of Jesus. Sundar threw himself on the ground and surrendered His life to Jesus.
The following months proved to be very difficult for Sundar and his family. Becoming a follower of Christ was not taken lightly by his family nor his community. He was excommunicated. He cut his hair, a gesture that did not make things any easier with his family who were convinced he had renounced his Sikh heritage.
A month after he was baptized in the year 1905, he took the vow of a sadhu. He gave away his meagre possessions, put on a saffron robe and became a barefooted wandering man of God. Among Christians the world over, this barefoot Sadhu was later called the “apostle of the bleeding feet” because the soles of his feet were often covered in bloody blisters. The life of a sadhu is hard and entirely dependent on God. Sadhu Sundar Singh’s needs were met entirely through the kindness of people he met wherever he went.
Sundar Singh is credited as the first missionary to cross the Himalayan Mountains to take the gospel to Nepal and Tibet. At thirty-six-years-of-age he made his last trip over the mountains. He never returned and is assumed to have been a martyr for Jesus.
In his diary left behind he had written, “It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for Him. Dying takes only a few minutes—or at worst an hour or two—but to live for Christ means to die daily to myself.”
RESPONSE: Today I will do the “hard” thing: die to myself and live for Jesus and others who need His love.
PRAYER: Help me Lord to live worthy of the calling as Your disciple. Show me the cross You want me to carry today.
Hurry Up and Wait
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
~ Isaiah 43:1b-3a (NIV)
Friend to Friend
Thunder cracked the sky when a lightning bolt ripped through the roof of our home, igniting a fire that redefined our normal that Tuesday night in March. The house snapped dark and shook. It was as if a bomb had gone off.
“I think we got hit!” Hunter screamed from the family room.
We hurried outside to see if it was true. Our neighbor Jeff ran across his yard to ours yelling a confirmation, “I think you got hit! I saw lightning hit your roof!”
The next few minutes were a blurry race against the clock. Get the dogs out! Get the cars out! I’ll grab the computers!
And that’s pretty much all we had time for.
The flames and smoke kicked us out of our home and far from warmth or comfort.
Sirens. Red lights flashing.
Fear and helplessness stood in the rain right beside me as I watched it all play out from across the street.
My feet were naked. In the chaos and commotion I didn’t think to put any on. Someone noticed and placed a pair of leather boat shoes before me. I had no idea whose they were, but I gratefully slipped them on.
The minutes seemed like months in the moments between the arrival of the fire fighters and the point at which they had the hoses hooked up to a water source. Hurry up, guys! Flames raged wildly from my closet window. The house glowed bright with orange. Was this really happening?
Two trucks. Three. Four. Firemen running and shouting. Police on the scene. News cameras and reporters.
Why was it taking so long?
Neighbors everywhere. Soaked. Stunned. Standing in support. Offering prayers and a place to stay. They’d all felt the earth shake within their homes when ours was hit.
Once the fire was contained and fully out, we were allowed to go back in to grab any personal items. It was almost 1am. Darkness hung thick in the air. It is standard procedure for the power to be cut, so the firemen led us through the ashes, debris and water with handheld lights.
The upstairs looked like a smoldering freight train had passed through, hurling darkness and destruction. Soot and debris was all around. Water and smoke everywhere. And ashes. Heaps and heaps of ashes. Could this really be our home?
Yet God’s peace was in the midst of it all, calming me. “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isaiah 43:2-3)
To say that the night of the fire was surreal scarcely begins to describe it. Since then, my family and I have been in a holding pattern of sorts. A series of hurry-up-and-wait scenarios that tenderize and stretch a heart like a steel mallet.
Displaced is such an odd term.
But, then again, odd words and phrases seem to fit like a pair of well-worn jeans when the storm brings fire. We’ve had to learn a whole new vernacular of terms: contents, textiles, claims, recoverable depreciation, non-recoverable, restorable…
Recover. Reject. Repair. Replace. Restore.
The smoke and smells seared my eyes for days. People I’d never seen from companies I’d never heard of were sifting through the ashes of our personal items, determining what was salvageable and what was damaged beyond repair.
Strangers. In my home. After the most horrific, traumatizing night of my family’s life. Tearing down walls. Ripping up carpet. Packing up box after box after box.
I felt exposed. Vulnerable. Uncomfortable. Did they know they were throwing away and packing up memories?
Did they realize that the big red hatbox in my closet was filled with personalized birthday and anniversary cards from my husband and crayon-written notes from my now grown children?
It was all too personal. Surely this was just a bad dream I would wake up from.
Now, many months later, our home is being rebuilt and we are grateful. We’ve seen and are in the process of witnessing beauty rise from the ashes on many levels.
We’re thankful for the ways we have seen the Lord protect and provide for our family.
We’re grateful for the ways we’ve seen our neighbors and the body of Christ rise up in love, and for the ways we’ve experienced a depth of community that we will treasure for life.
The lessons from the fire are being seared like tattoos on the hearts of my family. And the learning continues each day as we press through the trials of construction. Delays, mistakes, sub-contractors that don’t show… a move in date as fickle as the Carolina weather.
I want to learn every lesson that the Lord has for me - I really do - but the waiting can sure discourage a heart. Do we need to learn so much, God?
I just want to go home.
But through it all, in this season of hurry-up-and-wait, God is bidding me to trust Him. To trust His timing, His plan, His sovereignty and His ability to restore and make new.
Maybe He’s bidding you to trust Him today to? Perhaps not with a house fire, but with a prodigal child, a crumbling marriage or an aging parent? Maybe your waiting involves a health battle, singleness, an employment frustration or a financial burden.
In spite of our struggles, God is at work. Even when questions loom and pain is present. He is faithful and powerful, able to do more than you and I can even ask or imagine. Let’s ask for and imagine a fresh rising of strength and hope today as we trust God’s goodness even when our circumstances burn like fire and smell like smoke.
Dear Lord, Thank You for promising to never leave or forsake Your children. Please strengthen me to face the fires before me today with courage and honor. Help me to trust You.
In Jesus’s Name I pray,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read what God told His people in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” How does this speak to you today? Tell me - or write a prayer of response - in the comments section of my blog.
PERSONAL UPDATE: So many of you have prayed for my family since the fire. I can’t thank you enough. We have just moved back into our home and are swimming in a deep sea of boxes and in an even deeper sea of gratitude. God is faithful and always good. Love you guys! Thanks for doing life with Sharon, Mary and me!
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Girlfriends in God
Among the many gifts I received for confirmation was a Timex watch...
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
November 14, 2017
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits- who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
~ Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV)
Among the many gifts I received for confirmation was a Timex watch: you know the ones -- "They take a lickin' and keep on tickin."
As the proud possessor of a new watch, I felt it was my duty to time things which is how on Thanksgiving Day I found myself timing Pastor Abel's prayers. As I stood, shuffling from side to side on my restless feet, the pastor prayed for
- people who were about to get married and those whose marriage had gone on for a while;
- the people who were sick, for those near death, and those who were healthy;
- for the children of the church, the leaders of the church, and those who had been delinquent from the church.
Folks, my pastor prayed for eleven and a half minutes, almost as long as a short sermon. And, at that age, I could not figure out why anybody would have a Thanksgiving prayer that would run that length of time. Well, today I know. Indeed, I know two reasons why Pastor Abel did what he did.
Reason number one: pastor took the words of the Psalmist printed up above seriously. Pastor knew it was our obligation and our privilege to offer unending thanks to the Lord. Especially on Thanksgiving Day, pastor thought it right and proper to remember -- and list -- as many of God's earthly benefits as He could.
At the same time, even on that special day of thanks, our pastor didn't feel comfortable just speaking about physical gifts from God. He also wanted to call to our recollection the Lord's kindnesses when it came to the spiritual blessings He had extended. Once again, the Psalmist led the way when he mentioned two of the biggest blessings: the forgiveness of sins and our redemption. But as I said, there was another reason for that long prayer, and so there was.
That second reason is we have a God who is ready to listen to our prayers.
While an eleven-minute prayer might seem like an eternity in purgatory to a 12-year-old, it was music to the ears of the Lord. You see, the Lord had sent His Son into this world to be the sacrificial payment to redeem our souls. It was a great sacrifice, which ought to evoke an ongoing response.
In other words, to not pray was to take Jesus for granted. And that's not what God's people do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may our hearts be filled with appreciation for the blessings which You have given us through Your Son, our Savior, in whose Name we pray. Amen.
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
14 de Noviembre 2017
Les digo que así también será en el cielo: habrá más gozo por un pecador que se arrepiente, que por noventa y nueve justos que no necesitan arrepentirse.
~ Lucas 15:7 (RVC)
Cuando el Presidente de los Estados Unidos anunció que nuestros soldados regresarían de Iraq y Afganistán antes de finalizar el año 2011, lo que en realidad estaba diciendo era que "sí o sí iban a estar de regreso para las fiestas".
Más allá de la tendencia política personal de cada uno, la noticia que los padres, madres, hijos e hijas iban a estar junto con sus familias y amigos para celebrar el nacimiento del Salvador, fue recibida con el mayor de los entusiasmos.
Esa clase de noticia es la que tanto grandes como niños habían estado esperando, soñando y pidiendo durante mucho tiempo.
Pero Jesús dice que hasta tan grande alegría es poco, en comparación con la alegría que hay en el cielo cuando un pecador llega a la fe en el Salvador crucificado y resucitado. El cielo se regocija cada vez que el poder del Espíritu Santo, por medio de la fe, cambia el corazón de una persona, le perdona sus pecados y le cambia su futuro eterno de los horrores del infierno a la felicidad del cielo.
Es claro que hay una diferencia entre un soldado que regresa a casa y un alma que es salvada por la sangre de Jesús.
Cuando hayan pasado las fiestas, o quizás incluso antes, el soldado se va a dar cuenta que ha regresado a un mundo que no es perfecto: un mundo en el que existen problemas, sufrimientos, tristezas y dolores.
Pero la persona que muere en Cristo entra en un hogar de felicidad eterna. Esto significa que su alegría ya no va a ser medida en minutos, horas o días, porque estará en el lugar donde no hay más lágrimas ni sufrimiento, donde la tristeza y la enfermedad no existen, donde reina por siempre la alegría.
ORACIÓN: Señor, cuida y protege a los soldados hasta que regresen a su hogar. Protege sus cuerpos, pero también protege sus almas. Haz que cada corazón reconozca que Jesús es el Salvador, para que el perdón abunde y muchos más pasen a ser parte de la gran reunión que nos espera en el cielo. En el nombre de Jesús. Amén.
© Copyright 2017 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones. ¡Utilice estas devociones en sus boletines! Usado con permiso. Todos los derechos reservados por la Int'l LLL.