Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Sunday Lectionary Readings for SUNDAY, September 15, 2019 - 14th Sunday after Pentecost

The Parable of the Coin and the Lost Sheep
Luke 15:1-10

The Sunday Lectionary Readings
SUNDAY, September 15, 2019 - 14th Sunday after Pentecost
[Ordinary 24, Proper 19]
(Revised Common Lectionary Year C)

From Despair to Rejoicing
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28, Psalm 14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10

Opening





The Collect (Book of Common Prayers)
O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Confession
O Most Patient God, we recognize how much we need you for life itself.
But how often have we behaved as if we did not know or even care about you?

How often have we become the ones who do not carry out justice?

How often have we tried to dominate others even as you stand with them?

How often have we participated in the desolation of your creation by our treatment of the heavens, the earth and its waters?

Forgive us for these times when we have lost our way.

Know, All Loving God, that we want to be among those whom you seek.

Shower your mercy upon us. Find us, and lead us safely home to faithfulness.

Assurance of Pardon
My friends, when we are lost, all is not lost. God is seeking us, ready to turn our lives around, gathering us in to the people of God. Let us rejoice in God’s mercy!   Amen.


First Reading
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
4:11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.

22 “For my people are foolish,
     they do not know me;
   they are stupid children,
     they have no understanding.
   They are skilled in doing evil,
     but do not know how to do good.”

23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
     and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
     and all the hills moved to and fro.
25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
     and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
     and all its cities were laid in ruins
     before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

28 Because of this the earth shall mourn,
     and the heavens above grow black;
   for I have spoken, I have purposed;
     I have not relented nor will I turn back.

Psalm 14 Dixit insipiens
1  The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." *
   All are corrupt and commit abominable acts;
   there is none who does any good.

2  The Lord looks down from heaven upon us all, *
   to see if there is any who is wise,
   if there is one who seeks after God.

3  Every one has proved faithless;
   all alike have turned bad; *
   there is none who does good; no, not one.

4  Have they no knowledge, all those evildoers *
   who eat up my people like bread
   and do not call upon the Lord?

5  See how they tremble with fear, *
   because God is in the company of the righteous.

6  Their aim is to confound the plans of the afflicted, *
   but the Lord is their refuge.

7  Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! *
   when the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
   Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.


Second Reading
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Gratitude for Mercy
1:12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.


The Gospel
Luke 15:1-10
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”


Here ends the Lessons

Click HERE to read today's Holy Gospel Lesson message

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.

Closing Prayer



Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets.]

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.
Today’s passages are a study in contrasts.

“Sinners Welcome” The Sermon for SUNDAY, September 15, 2019 - 14th Sunday after Pentecost


Our Gospel message comes to us today from the 15th chapter of Luke, beginning with the 1st verse.

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:1-10, NRSV)

All mighty God, we thank you for your word and the way that you in it revealed to us who you are and what you've done for us in Christ. Now as we open that word we pray that your spirit may be present, that all thoughts of worry or distraction may be removed and that the Spirit will allow us to hear your voice. And so, oh God, fill us with your spirit through the reading and proclamation of your word this day. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.


“Sinners Welcome”

There’s a story I read about a pastor who was called to see a young man, John, dying of a terrible disease. The young man was once a member of this pastor’s congregation. He had received all of the good Christian education and training, growing up; he was baptized and confirmed—the typical routine, really. Later on, though, John turned his back on the church and on the faith he had grown up in. He gave it all up to live life how he wanted, on his terms. His story was basically the story of the prodigal son—which our Gospel reading today leaves out. Poor life choices ultimately led John into poverty and this disease, which was rapidly taking his life. He was the talk of the town, too. Everyone knew about John; they spoke about him with disappointment. No one visited him.

And as he lay there, dying, writhing in pain and discomfort, he had plenty of time to think. And he thought back to his youth, back to his upbringing, back to his good church life before all this. He knew the end was near, and so, like the prodigal son, he thought about “his Father’s house.” He thought about the Jesus he once knew. And John so desperately wanted to be with Him forever. So he asked for the pastor to come and visit him.

The pastor came and saw the sorrow in John’s eyes; heard the despair and fear in his voice. And then, the pastor shared with him the words of a merciful God; a God who offers eternal salvation for every repentant sinner. He reminded Him of his baptism, and of the Savior who died for him and offers forgiveness and new life. And as the pastor read the Bible, John lay there in pain but with a smile on his face. And he closed his eyes and fell asleep in Jesus.

The day before the funeral was taking place at the church, one of the prominent church members, Mr. Goodman, met with the pastor. He asked, “Pastor, you’re not going to do a Christian burial for that good for nothing sinner, are you?” “Oh,” said the pastor, “You mean our brother in Christ, John? Of course I’m going to give him a Christian burial.” To this the “good church member” replied, “Well, if this man went to heaven, I don’t know if I want to go there!” “Never fear, Mr. Goodman,” said the pastor, “You may not be going.” Of course, this only enraged Mr. Goodman, who argued how he was far more worthy of heaven than that miserable, sinful wretch, John. But the pastor simply reminded him, “There is no difference...for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Basic story from "Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations," Burgess, David F., Concordia Publishing House, 1988. p. 112)

I can’t verify whether that story actually took place. Like I said, it was just a story I read recently. But doesn’t it sound like something that would happen? Doesn’t that Mr. Goodman sound like some stuffy, uptight, self-righteous person you’ve come across before? We like stories like this because the wayward young man finds redemption, while the vocal, mean-spirited Mr. Goodman, gets an overdue lesson in pulling the plank out of your own eye before pointing out the speck in another’s. And yet, by taking pleasure in hearing the self-righteous “Mr. Goodmans” of the world get what’s coming to them, we sort of fall into that same trap of judgment. Because our sinful nature cannot help but compare and judge.

Jesus tackles this very subject in our Gospel reading for today (Luke 15:1-10). Just before the reading picks up, as we read last Sunday, Jesus speaks about the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33). He calls people to follow Him, despite the cost. And He tops it off with a phrase, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Luke 14:35) And so, they came. They came to hear Him; they came to follow Him. But those who followed after Him, those who came to hear were the worst that society had to offer. Tax collectors and sinners. For this reason, the Pharisees and Scribes were appalled at what they saw him doing. He was eating dinners with sinners?!? Well, that was major cultural faux pas. Sitting down with tax collectors was social suicide. Eating with sinners—you might as well right off your chances of salvation. After all, everyone knows that if you sit down with a sinner, you’re guilty of their sin by association!

This was their line of thinking, anyway. That was the prevailing thought of the day. But...actually, isn’t it sort of a prevailing thought, still, today? Don’t we naturally place labels on people who associate with the “wrong crowd?” I mean, everyone knows if you sit with an alcoholic in a neighborhood tavern for lunch, suddenly you’re an alcoholic, too, even though you were drinking a Diet Dr Pepper. And, of course, everyone knows that if you’re a congressman who reaches across the aisle in bipartisanship, you’ve basically joined that political party. Then, of course, there’s where you live that plays a factor: “Oh, your child goes to THAT school,” and suddenly you’ve envisioned, out of your own imagination, the decrepit old neighborhood that they OBVIOUSLY must live in—though you've never been there. And you think, “I wonder what they did to end up there?!” Tisk, tisk.

At the same time, there’s our own fear that we’ll be associated with the wrong crowd, so we essentially live covert, double-lives. You know what I’m talking about: there are those whom we’re friends with, but we wouldn’t dare tell anyone we hang out with them, lest people get the wrong idea about us. You know the ones: maybe their language is a bit vulgar; maybe they’re pro-choice; maybe they’re gay; maybe they’re outspoken atheists; maybe they voted for Bernie Sanders; maybe they’re loud and obnoxious when they drink too much, but the thing is, they always drink too much. Whatever the case, you know the one. And we do our best to not be found guilty by association; we go to great lengths to avoid these two groups of friends ever meeting—nay, colliding—lest our universe be destroyed.

Then, there are those times we live these double lives, putting up a false front. We work so hard to keep up appearances as though our marriage is stable. We want people to look at us as the model of what to aim for in life. So we hide the fact that our financial situation is unsustainable. We hide the fact that there’s an addict at home. Or the number of times we have to bail our kids out. We hide our flaws, and we put up a facade in order to mask our vulnerabilities; in order to look like we’ve got our act together. And the best smoke screen to hide it all is by pointing out the struggles others are going through. A great way to hide our own failures is redirection; comparing ourselves to others: “Well, at least I’m not like them…at least I’m not as bad as you.” I think these kinds of things are what lead people to call Christians “hypocrites,” because they see us falling into the trap along with the Pharisees and Scribes, ignoring our sins and failures.

Well that day, in the eyes of the Pharisees and Scribes, Jesus looked sinful by association with the dregs of society. And Jesus basically said, “Yeah…that’s the point!” And through a few parables, Jesus blows away the smoke screen. We’re only going to look at the first two of these lost and found parables, and that's enough. Because, in them, Jesus tears through the curtain we hide behind in our puffed-up, self-righteousness. Jesus sees right through the facade, and today He calls us to repentance.

In the first parable Jesus tells, the shepherd does some bizarre things. When one out of his 100 sheep goes missing, he left the 99 sheep out in the wilderness all alone. Different commentaries try to explain that, “well there probably would have been multiple shepherds; so he probably left the 99 in the hands of one of the helpers.” NO. Jesus is telling a parable—he didn’t mention helpers—so we just work with what he says. The 99 sheep were left all alone. Any one of them could have wandered away. But, for him, it was worth it; to save that one lost sheep, it was worth it. And when he finally found that little lamb, he picked it up, and went and he threw a party to celebrate—over ONE little sheep! Sure, they’re important…but not THAT important. I mean, he’s still got 99 others who stayed put! But what’s perhaps the most bizarre part that is often overlooked in this parable is that he returned home with the one sheep…but where are the other 99? Jesus makes no further mention of the sheep themselves. I think we usually envision the Shepherd retrieving the lost sheep; then going back to the other 99; then bringing all 100 home with them. But that’s not what’s described. All we get is the fact that the shepherd took the sheep home with him. You might even imagine the shepherd left them out in the wilderness. But even if you don’t like that idea; even if he brought them back, too, at any rate, the one, dirty sheep was the only one brought into the man’s home; carried the entire way into the Good Shepherd’s house for a magnificent party. The rest were stuck outside. And Jesus said, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” They’ll be stuck outside with no party.

In the second parable, the woman makes a big deal over something so small. She had ten coins, and she lost one. The coin was a drachma, with unknown value—unknown to us, anyway. At some points in history, the drachma was the equivalent to a day’s wages; at other times, it was the price of a sheep; and at other times, it was a fraction of a penny. The way Jesus talks about it, we get the sense that she’s making a big deal out of what we might think is nothing…but to her, it’s everything. To the woman in the parable, it was priceless, and she was willing to go to great lengths to find it. She searched high, she searched low. She looked everywhere in her house. And if this was all she had, she very well may have been a peasant. So it would make sense that she went to such great lengths; and her lighting a lamp to find it made perfect sense. Because, in those days, peasant houses had short doors and no windows, so it was very dark. She needed to light a lamp if she was going to find it. And when the light reflected off of that little drachma, the woman was filled with joy beyond measure. So much so, she threw a party. But the thing is, the party she threw probably cost more than the coin was even worth—perhaps the other nine coins were given up to pay for this celebration! And as Jesus said, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

These are great parables; neat stories…but what’s it all about? Usually we look at these parables with a focus on outreach. Go and find the lost of this world! And that’s fine. These parables do call us to action to seek the lost of the world, secondarily at least. But that’s not really the primary purpose—not if you take them in the context of what was happening. The parables were primarily aimed at the self-righteous Jewish leadership. If they are so righteous, as they claim, then they should be trying to help others and guide them back, like shepherds, not condemn them and leave them to die. If they were so righteous, they should have shone the bright word of God’s light for those who were lost in the darkness of the world. But instead they allow these priceless ones whom God adores slip through their fingers, without even bothering to seek them out. And in their self-righteousness, by failing to take action; by failing to seek out others; by putting up a smokescreen of judgment; by failing in these ways, they failed to see their own sin. They failed to see that they themselves were lost. It’s hard to see your own short-comings when you’re so focused on everyone else’s.

With these parables, Jesus is telling us His mission, saying, “I’ve come looking for you. I’ve come searching for all of the lost. I’ve come to heal those who know they’re broken. I’ve come to bring light to those looking for a way out of their darkness. I’ve come to do what you cannot do. I’ve come to save you from yourselves.” Taking on our flesh, joining in our humanity, dying in our place—yes, Jesus came to be sinful by association with us, so that we might be saints by association with Him. And to all who hear him calling; to all who follow him, no matter the cost; to all who repent and believe in the Gospel, this Jesus offers an eternal celebration in paradise. Sinners Welcome! The party is for the lost! The party is for you.

The party is for those who recognize their need for a Savior. There’s no room at the table for those who think themselves righteous. There’s no room at the table for those who believe their own good works merit a seat with the Savior. There’s no room for those who condemn others without question. There’s no room for comparison; no room for those who don’t recognize their own faults and failures because they’re so fixated on others’. The party is for the lost. Sinners Welcome!

God in Christ went to great lengths for this party, too! In the parables, the lost sheep and the lost coin were unable to make themselves found. They could not will themselves found by their owner. In the same way, we cannot make ourselves found and worthy to stand before the throne of God. Only by grace, with the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word, does this happen. God finds us. God does all the work.

We see Jesus going to even greater lengths when we consider that first parable. Even in this parable, Jesus is conveying what would happen on the cross—as the Shepherd carries the burden of His sheep upon His own shoulders. And, as the woman paid a ridiculous price to celebrate one coin, so God paid a ridiculous price for the joyful party in heaven—the cost was His own Son, for us. And on the last day, amid the joys of heaven, we who once were lost will have a seat at the feast of victory, because the Good Shepherd came looking for us.

Beyond outreach, and urging us to evangelize, today and everyday Jesus doesn’t call us to perfection; He calls us to repentance. He calls us to recognize our sins against a holy God. To leave the judging to Him, and confess our failures…because daily, we are lost to sin. But daily, Christ calls us back in grace. So that we might know true eternal joy, in grace Jesus calls us to repentance. And with open arms He invites us to the feast, saying, “Sinners welcome.”

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks that you sent your Son into our world to redeem and restore sinners to a right relationship with you, our Creator. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to realize that we, too, come before our Lord’s table as sinners who have been redeemed by your saving grace. Take from us the arrogance of pride in our self-accomplishments, and help us to trust solely in your amazing grace. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Come soon, Lord Jesus. Amen.


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Scripture taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)® Bible, copyright © 1989 the 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. Sermon contributed by Rev. Jonathan Meyer.
Whether we know it or not, we are all lost. Jesus comes seeking us, calling us to repentance, and He welcomes sinners to His feast of victory.

The Daily Prayer for SUNDAY, September 15, 2019


The Daily Prayer
for SUNDAY, September 15, 2019

On September 15, 1963, a man later identified as Robert Chambliss placed a bomb under the steps of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), and Denise McNair (11) were killed by the explosion, and twenty-two others were injured. The girls were attending Sunday school classes at the church. Chambliss was found not guilty of murder, but was given a hundred-dollar fine and six months in jail for having dynamite. He was retried in 1973 and received a life sentence for the bombing.

Lord, we weep with those who weep and refuse to be consoled. May our tears mix with yours in a river of justice, flowing down like mighty waters, transforming the world that is into the one that ought to be. Amen.

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, September 15, 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=NIV&search=1%20John%204:16

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.

Un dia a la Vez - Sunday, Sept 15, 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/un-dia-vez/2019/09/15

Recibe a Jesús en tu corazón

Todo el que invoque el nombre del Señor será salvo.
~ Romanos 10:13 (NVI)

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
Hace quince años me hicieron esta pregunta: «¿Quieres recibir a Jesús en tu corazón?».

Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, Septr 15, 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/standing-strong-through-the-storm/2019/09/15
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.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

LHM Daily Devotions Sept 15, 2019 - The King of Love My Shepherd Is

https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20190915

"The King of Love My Shepherd Is"

Sep. 15, 2019

"The King of love my Shepherd is, Whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am His, And He is mine forever.

"Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, But yet in love He sought me, And on His shoulder gently laid, And home rejoicing brought me."

It is not a flattering description, and it is not really something we would want to put on our résumé: "Perverse and foolish." It is not a pleasant description, but unfortunately it is an accurate one. In our fallen, sinful state, we are perverse and foolish. Even though we know the Word and will of God, we often choose instead to follow our own sinful desires and listen to the tempting voices of the world around us. We act foolishly, turning from what is right. We know that what we do is wrong, but like straying sheep we still choose to go our own way. The apostle Paul, a fellow sheep, discussed his own puzzling tendency to wander from what he knew was right. "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate" He then asks, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" And he supplies the answer for us all: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (see Romans 7:15-25).

Jesus Christ our Lord, the King of love and our Shepherd, is not at all surprised by the unflattering description of His sheep. He knows us; He created us. Our "goodness" fails, but His goodness does not. He is no ordinary shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is good because He doesn't just seek out His straying sheep. He does more, much more. As Jesus said of Himself, "The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep" (John 10:11b). Our Good Shepherd seeks us out and calls us back to Himself. He forgives our sins; we are sheep washed clean in the blood of our Shepherd, who is the Lamb of God offered up as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, for the sins of you and me.

The King of love seeks out each wandering sheep and gently lays it across His shoulders, shoulders that once bore the cruel weight of the cross for us. To the eternal joy of the angels, our Shepherd brings each one of us, His lost sheep, safely home to His fold. Sheltered and secure in His goodness and love, we lack nothing. We are His and He is ours, now and forever. And on the Last Day, when our King of love returns in glory, we, His happy sheep, will join the angels and rejoice in our Good Shepherd's presence for all eternity.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, King of love, shelter us in Your presence, now and forever. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
  • Do you feel like you do fewer foolish things these days than you did, say, ten years ago?
  • Are you able to continue loving people who repeatedly mess up their lives, or the lives of others? If so, how do you do that?
  • Has there ever been a time when you felt you were lost for good? Has God ever brought you back from the brink?

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "The King of Love My Shepherd Is." Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Do you feel like you do fewer foolish things these days than you did, say, ten years ago?

Unser Täglich Brot - Einheit

https://unsertaeglichbrot.org/2019/09/15/einheit/

Einheit

Lesung: Epheser 4,1-6 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: Sprüche 22-24; 2. Korinther 8

Seid darauf bedacht, zu wahren die Einigkeit im Geist durch das Band des Friedens. Epheser 4,3

Im Jahr 1722 fand eine kleine Gruppe der Brüdergemeine, im heutigen Tschechien, Schutz vor Verfolgung auf den Ländereien eines großzügigen deutschen Grafen. Innerhalb von vier Jahren kamen mehr als 300 Menschen. Aber anstatt eine ideale Gemeinschaft für verfolgte Flüchtlinge zu sein, schlich sich Uneinigkeit in der Gemeinschaft ein. Unterschiedliche Meinungen zum Christentum brachten Trennung. Was sie dann taten, könnte als kleine Entscheidung angesehen werden, aber es brachte eine unglaubliche Erweckung: sie konzentrierten sich auf das, was sie einte, anstatt auf das, was sie trennte. Das Ergebnis war Einheit.

Der Apostel Paulus ermutigt die Gläubigen der Gemeinde in Ephesus eindrücklich, in Einheit zu leben. Sünde würde immer Schwierigkeiten bringen, selbstsüchtige Wünsche und Konflikte in Beziehungen. Aber als diejenigen, die „in Christus lebendig“ gemacht wurden, sollten die Epheser ihre neue Identität auf praktische Weise ausleben (Epheser 5,2). Vorranging sollten sie „darauf bedacht sein, zu wahren die Einigkeit im Geist durch das Band des Friedens“ (4,3).

Diese Einheit ist nicht nur einfach Kameradschaft, die durch menschliche Kraft erreicht wird. Wir sollen „in aller Demut und Sanftmut, in Geduld einander ertragen in Liebe“ (V. 2). Aus menschlicher Sicht ist es unmöglich, sich so zu verhalten. Wir können Einheit nicht durch unsere eigene Kraft erreichen, aber durch Gottes perfekte Kraft, „die in uns wirkt“ (Epheser 3,20).
Wo erlebst du Trennung oder Einheit in deiner Glaubensgemeinschaft? Welche Bemühungen kannst du in Gottes Kraft unternehmen, um die Einheit des Geistes zu erhalten?
Vater, du, der du über allem und durch alles und in allem bist, lebe unter uns auf eine Weise, damit Einheit gegenwärtig ist.


© 2019 Unser Täglich Brot
Im Jahr 1722 fand eine kleine Gruppe der Brüdergemeine, im heutigen Tschechien, Schutz vor Verfolgung auf den Ländereien eines großzügigen deutschen Grafen. Innerhalb von vier Jahren kamen mehr als 300 Menschen. Aber anstatt eine ideale Gemeinschaft für verfolgte Flüchtlinge zu sein, schlich sich Uneinigkeit in der Gemeinschaft ein. Unterschiedliche Meinungen zum Christentum brachten Trennung. Was sie dann taten, könnte als kleine Entscheidung angesehen werden, aber es brachte eine unglaubliche Erweckung: