Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Sunday Lectionary Readings for SUNDAY, May 31, 2020 — Day of Pentecost

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/revised-common-lectionary-complementary/2020/05/31?version=NIV

The Sunday Lectionary Readings
SUNDAY, May 31, 2020
(Revised Common Lectionary Year A)

Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 7:37-39

The Story of Pentecost


Opening Statement
Wind, fire, surprise, cacophony of languages, promises fulfilled, dreams, visions, gifts given and received, and most of all the Spirit—these are all parts of what make up the Pentecost experience, not only for the first-century church, but for us as well. We need to help folks experience these feelings with an intensity that may have been lost through familiarity. Let the rush of the mighty wind be felt, the flames seen, and the visions and dreams happen as we celebrate the gift of the Spirit in our midst.

Pentecost is one of the most exciting days in our Christian Year. It is the birthday of the church; a time when disciples no longer feared but were energized to proclaim the good news of God’s love through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.


Opening Prayer
Spirit of wind and fire, come to us this day, freeing us from our fears. Lift us up when we have fallen. Dust us off and set us squarely on the path to hope you have set before us. Remind us that we are never far from your presence. Get us ready for the great adventure and opportunities that lie before us. Help us to be good and willing workers for you. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen


Prayer of Confession
Lord of patience and persistence, we live in a broken and shattered world. All around us we see great evidence of hatred and alienation. We cannot help but observe the alienation of your people from each other. We create devices to separate rather than unite; to divide rather than come together in hope. Forgive us for our sins. These sins cause such division and hurt. Remind us today that the disciples, too, lived in a fearful world and that one day you came to them, as they sat huddled in fear, and you empowered them. You gave them hearts of courage and faith. Please bring to us the same hearts that we may serve you well, bringing peace and hope to our world. In the name of Christ, we offer this prayer. Amen


Words of Assurance
Dear ones, fear no more! The power of God’s Holy Spirit has set us free from the prison of doubt and fear! Now is the time to shine with the light of God’s love, given to you by Jesus Christ.


The Collect
(from the Book of Common Prayers)
 Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen


Prayer of the Day
O God, on this day you open the hearts of your faithful people by sending into us you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for Holy Spirit. Direct us by the light of that Spirit, that we may have a right judgment in all things and rejoice at all times in your peace, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen


First Reading
Filled with the Spirit
2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
     I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
     your young men will see visions,
     your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
     I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
     and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
     and signs on the earth below,
     blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
     and the moon to blood
     before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
     on the name of the Lord will be saved.’


Renewing the face of the earth
24 How many are your works, Lord!
     In wisdom you made them all;
     the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
     teeming with creatures beyond number—
     living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
     and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 All creatures look to you
     to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
     they gather it up;
   when you open your hand,
     they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
     they are terrified;
   when you take away their breath,
     they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
     they are created,
     and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
     may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
     who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
     I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
     as I rejoice in the Lord.

35b Praise the Lord, my soul.

   Praise the Lord.


Second Reading
Varieties of gifts the same Spirit
12:3b No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.


Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, And kindle in us the fire of your love.
Alleluia.


The Gospel
Jesus the true living water
7:37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.


Here end the Readings


Click HERE to read today’s Holy Gospel Lesson message



  • I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and 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


Holy Communion

A nondenominational serving of bread and wine
Many churches around the world are working hard to adapt to online worship, and one challenge is how our members can celebrate communion from home. Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present.


Benediction
God, out of God’s great love, has created you. Jesus Christ, out of his great love, has redeemed you. The Holy Spirit, out of great love, has lifted and inspired you to go in peace and service throughout God’s world, proclaiming the good news of peace, love, hope, and joy to all. Go in peace. Amen



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 Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The Daily Lectionary for SUNDAY, May 31, 2020
Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 7:37-39

“The Reality of Pentecost”




Our message comes to us today from the 2nd chapter of the book of Acts, beginning with the 1st verse, “Filled with the Spirit.”

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says,
  I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
  your young men will see visions,
  your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
  I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
  and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
  and signs on the earth below,
  blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
  and the moon to blood
  before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
  on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:1-21)
O God, open our hearts and minds and souls to hear your word as if for the first time. Help us experience anew the surprise and joy that your presence in the word can bring us. Amen

“The Reality of Pentecost”

We’ve been living in liturgical limbo during the last ten days of the Church year, existing between two realities. We’ve celebrated our Lord’s ascension into heaven. But since the Ascension, we’ve been waiting. We’ve been waiting for this day. Like the Apostles of old, we’ve been listening to our Lord’s instructions to “stay [wait] in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

So the Apostles waited. They waited because the Lord Jesus told them to wait. But there was more to this waiting than that, much more. Something powerful was to happen to them when their wait was finally over on Pentecost day. The Holy Spirit would change them. Fear would be turned into a martyr’s boldness, fishers would become the world’s teachers, and doubt would be replaced by mountain-moving faith—all because of Pentecost!

Sometimes we don’t realize how much we need Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the New Testament Church. Pentecost is God giving His Holy Spirit to all believers, not just a few. No longer was the Holy Spirit to dwell in a building, the Temple, like in the Old Testament. There, God, in the form of His Shekinah, the cloud, revealed Himself to His people above the Ark of Covenant in the Holy of Holies. No longer was the Holy Spirit only given to leadership positions to do the tasks God had given them to do. Because of Pentecost, all Christians have been brought into the Royal Priesthood, and each Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost also shows that Christianity isn’t some human-created religion. If Christianity were merely of human design, even if it were the best and most beautiful religion, the disciples wouldn’t have needed to wait in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Why would they need to?

Jesus’ disciples had lived with Him for several years, the most intense and personal seminary training. They could’ve begun writing, teaching, and passing on what they had learned without a Pentecost. Jesus had fully trained them. Now it was time for them to start teaching others, right? That’s how it is with other religions.

Not so with Christianity. Christianity isn’t just about ideas, moral guidance, or ethical norms. Christianity has these things, but that’s not what the Christian faith is about. If it were, Christianity would be but another form of Phariseeism. No, Christianity is about the Holy Spirit, calling someone through the Gospel, enlightening him with His gifts, and sanctifying and keeping him in the true faith. There is no New Testament Christianity without Pentecost.

Pentecost is what Jesus promised when He said He would send another Helper, a Counselor, a Guide, a Comforter, an Advocate. As God breathed into Adam and he became a living being, so Christ breathes the Holy Spirit of life into His people, and His people come alive. That’s what Pentecost is all about. The Spirit gives living breath. And filled with the Spirit, God’s people become alive, unable to be silent, confessing, and proclaiming Jesus Christ.

But sadly, so sadly, many Christians live as if they are stuck between Ascension and Pentecost as if Pentecost never happened. We live our lives as if the Christian faith were only a set of ideas. We think we are Christian because we intellectually agree to certain facts in our heads, which many of you studied long ago and haven’t looked at since.

If the Apostles had remained in that state of limbo, the state they were in between Ascension and Pentecost would’ve never brought the Gospel to the world. They would’ve never lived out the faith as they did. They would’ve never died for the faith as they did. And they indeed would’ve never preached as they did. Their faith-life was what it was because God the Holy Spirit was blowing, moving, and breathing within them.

Sometimes we show little proof that we are living as post-Pentecost Christians (and I don’t mean all the ridiculous nonsense that today passes for being filled with the Spirit). I mean that our faith is weak, and that’s acceptable. I mean that sin still controls our lives, and that’s acceptable. I mean that we have little Christian joy, and that’s acceptable.

Today, we are often more like the fearful and doubting disciples before Pentecost. Christianity without Pentecost is but an empty form! If the Holy Spirit doesn’t permeate our lives with His presence, then our faith-life is but meaningless motion! If God’s Word does not have its way with us, then our Christian life is one without power!

Consider how the life of the Church depends on the Holy Spirit. Baptism saves us because we aren’t born only of water, but of water and Spirit (John 3:3-5). Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no forgiveness in absolution. That’s why our Lord gathered His Apostles together and breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:23).

Think of the Mystery of Mysteries: the core of Christ’s New Covenant with His people, His Supper. The existence of Christ’s body and blood in His Supper depends on the Holy Spirit working through the Word. It’s the Holy Spirit working through the words that are spoken over the bread and wine, which makes the Lord’s Supper the Lord’s Supper.

Everything Christ has commanded His Church to do would be but an empty form without the Holy Spirit. And we can say that is true in all matters of faith and practice. There is no prayer without the Holy Spirit praying in us. Fasting is merely dieting if it is not done in a way to help curb the sinful flesh. It’s no coincidence that our Lord went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days, “led by the Spirit” (Luke 4:1). We can’t overcome sin in our life without the Holy Spirit. He is One who enables us to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13).

Now some of you might be thinking, “How do I experience this Pentecost Christianity? I feel as if I’m stuck between Ascension and Pentecost!” Perhaps you are, or maybe you aren’t.

Ask yourself this: “Can God raise the dead? Can He breathe life into the lifeless? Can He revive, renew, and recreate His people, His saints on earth?” Of course He can! Of course He can, and He does, and He will by His Spirit, His breath, and His words.

The danger is that we try to recreate Pentecost for ourselves as if we can create within us what only God the Holy Spirit can do. This is one of the great sins of our age: we think we can by our own work and effort do what the Holy Spirit does—individually and as a congregation by manipulating external factors.

But what would happen after a few months of trying to manufacture a Holy Spirit-like effect in your life? Your life would again become ordinary, mundane, and even boring—the same-old wind, the same-old fire, and the same-old speaking in tongues. And then you’d be looking for something new to replace the old. You can’t create a Pentecost in your life—only God the Holy Spirit can do that!

But thanks be to God that Christ is living and breathing from the right hand of God the Father. And He sends the Spirit like a fresh wind across the face of His people, igniting Pentecost when and where He chooses. For the Holy Spirit produces faith when and where He wills, in those who hear the Gospel.

The danger about letting Pentecost enchant us for the wrong reasons is that we take our eyes off Jesus. That’s where the Spirit wants us to look, to Jesus, instead of being bedazzled by all the Pentecostal pyrotechnics. For the Holy Spirit wants to bring glory to Jesus, not Himself. The Holy Spirit is like a spotlight shining on Christ. And as with all spotlights, you focus on where the beam is shining, not on the beam itself. So it is with the Spirit.

Our confidence in the Spirit’s presence and working is not in the wind, the fire, or the tongues. No, it’s in the preaching of Jesus, in the hearing of His forgiveness, in holy baptism, in His body and blood, and in the Word. That’s where the Spirit is active, that’s where Pentecost is happening today, here and now, for you. And that’s where you go looking for it!

Your baptism is your Pentecost day. Every time you hear the Word of Christ coming to you in your own language, that’s also your Pentecost. Whenever you eat of the bread that is Christ’s body, whenever drink of the cup that is His blood, and whenever you proclaim the Lord’s death, that is Pentecost for you. Getting more Spirit into you is to be where the Holy Spirit is doing His work—and that work is done through Word and Sacrament.

The continuing work and life of Pentecost are not in the fire and the flaming tongues—even as enthralling as that is. The continuing work and life of Pentecost are in the Word that brings repentance and faith in Jesus.

The true miracle of Pentecost was the 3,000 brought to faith that day. The speaking in tongues was the way God the Holy Spirit enabled the proclaimed Word to be understood by all that day. And there hasn’t been a day since then when the Holy Spirit hasn’t been doing His work.

Today, the Spirit of God still breathes life into His people. The Spirit of God puts breath into your lungs and words into your mouth and ears. The Spirit of God opens your lips that your mouth may declare the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. The Spirit of God continues to call you through the Gospel, enlightening you with His gifts, and sanctifying and keeping you in the true faith.

Yes, you are part of that great breath and wind of Pentecost. That’s why your spiritually lifeless body now lives. How do you know? Because you believe in Jesus—and you can only do that by the Holy Spirit working in your life. That’s why Jesus’ death is yours. That’s why His life is yours. That’s why His Spirit is yours. And whenever that is true, you are living in Pentecost.

Let us pray: Knock us off our seats, O Lord, with the wind of your Holy Spirit. Don’t let us just sit back and rest as though nothing important was happening. Remind us that you have come to bless and prepare us for your service. Now is the time of proclamation and celebration! Now is the birth of your church, not as an exercise in futility, but as a dynamic group of people who know you and love you as you know and love each of us. Flame up our hearts! Make us so joyful that we find it difficult to sit back and watch. We want to be part of your healing love and mercy. We want to be people who bear the word that your love for us is eternal; that Jesus Christ, our Savior, proclaimed and taught that love in all that he did and said, modeling for us a new way to live. Pick us up and propel us forward into your world. Help us to remember that you have given to us what we need to be your disciples. We just need to say a resounding "Yes!" to you. Thank you for all the wondrous patience and blessings you pour into our lives each and every day, as we offer our lives back to you in joy and hope. Amen

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

Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Sermon contributed by Richard Futrell.
Sometimes we don’t realize how much we need Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the New Testament Church. Pentecost is God giving His Holy Spirit to all believers, not just a few.

The Daily Prayer for SUNDAY, May 31, 2020

https://biblegateway.christianbook.com/common-prayer-liturgy-for-ordinary-radicals/shane-claiborne/9780310326199/pd/326199
The Daily Prayer
SUNDAY, May 31, 2020

Feast of the Visitation

On May 31, the church celebrates Mary’s visit with her cousin Elizabeth, after she had learned from the angel Gabriel that she was carrying the creator of the universe in her womb. Elizabeth was herself pregnant with John the Baptist at the time, and the gospel account tells us that he leapt for joy inside his mother when she embraced Mary. The joy of these two hosts—Mary and Elizabeth—is a reminder to us of the delight that comes when we practice hospitality, inviting God to come right into our lives.

Jeanne de Chantal, seventeenth-century founder of the Order of the Visitation, said, “No matter what happens, be gentle with yourself.”

Lord, you have done great things for us, many of which we have hardly noticed. You are Lord over the past, sovereign in the present, and victorious in the future. Even in our trials, we celebrate you. Amen.

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, May 31, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/verse-of-the-day/2020/05/31?version=NIV

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Read all of 1 Thessalonians 4

Listen to 1 Thessalonians 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 - Domingo 31 de mayo de 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/un-dia-vez/2020/05/31

Semana de celebración: La oración

Ustedes me invocarán, y vendrán a suplicarme, y yo los escucharé. Me buscarán y me encontrarán, cuando me busquen de todo corazón.

La oración no debe ser la repetición como loritos de las palabras que nos han enseñado. La oración va más allá, pues es un principio de vida. Es un recurso que nos dejó Dios a fin de interceder por los demás. Es una comunicación directa con Él.

En el momento de la oración debemos abrir nuestro corazón al Padre que está ahí pendiente de lo que estamos orando. Por eso, la oración no es una técnica, aunque debemos aprender a orar y ser precisos en la manera de orar. Es decir, debemos ser específicos cuando le estemos pidiendo algo a Dios.

La oración por las necesidades de los demás trae también tremendos beneficios. En el Manual de Instrucciones, Dios dice que cuando nos preocupamos por los problemas de los demás, Él se preocupa por los nuestros.

La oración es milagrosa. Además, la oración debe servir de protección. Por eso es tan importante cubrir con oración a nuestros hijos, cónyuges y hasta el trabajo y los compañeros. La oración es tan poderosa que Dios nos manda a orar hasta por nuestros enemigos.

La Palabra también nos dice que debemos orar sin cesar. Si no estás acostumbrado a hacerlo, no te preocupes. Empieza poco a poco cuando estés a solas con Dios. Habla con Él y hazlo todos los días hasta que llegue el momento en que, aun cuando estés es la calle, te encuentres en comunicación permanente con tu Padre.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
La oración no debe ser la repetición como loritos de las palabras que nos han enseñado. La oración va más allá, pues es un principio de vida.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, May 31, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/standing-strong-through-the-storm/2020/05/31
ONE WITH THEM

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

For Marina Shestakov and her three daughters, the imprisonment of their husband and father, Dmitry, was a time of great loss. But four years of loss soon became four years of gain, as Marina and the girls discovered they had a new family—a family without boundaries. Christians from around the world came alongside them reminding them of God’s love through their prayers, letters of support, and offers of practical help.

In 2007, Pastor Dmitry Shestakov was sentenced to four years in a labor camp. He was leading a church in the east of Uzbekistan and had been watched by the security services for some time. In an attempt to blacken his name, he was falsely accused of many things, such as the excessive use of drugs and alcohol.

Marina will never forget the moment Dmitry was arrested. “It was a huge shock,” she says. “Suddenly I was left alone. Quickly many things changed in our family. The girls (Sasha, Masha, and Vera) were at an age when they were discovering all sorts of things, and sometimes they did not take notice of what I told them. Once Dmitry was gone, that changed. Gradually we became a close-knit team. That was good, but at the same time hard. They missed a part of their childhood.”

After Dmitry’s arrest, a division arose in the church that he led. Some of the Christians were afraid and fled. However, God also brought good out of the situation. “Often in Central Asian cultures, when the pastor is removed, the whole church falls apart,” explains Marina. “Although some families left, new leaders arose as well. I’m thankful to everyone who took over Dmitry’s work,” she adds.

When Dmitry’s arrest became known outside Uzbekistan, several organizations launched aid campaigns for the Shestakovs. Open Doors started a writing campaign and encouraged its supporters to send cards and letters to encourage the Shestakov family. This support was vital for Marina and the girls.

“All the cards were a great encouragement for me,” shares Marina. “I thought it was so wonderful that people sent cards which were intended especially for one of us: for Dmitry or for me, or for one of the girls.

“I gained most strength from the Bible verses. The promises of God that He was watching over me, that He was holding me in His hand: those promises that people had written on the cards helped me to get through.”

RESPONSE: Today I will thank God for the oneness of His body around the world and the encouragement we can be to one another.

PRAYER: Pray for the Shestakov family—and others like them—as they struggle to resume their lives after the pressures of isolation and separation.

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 - May 31, 2020 - "Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling"

https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20200531

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling"

May 31, 2020

♫ "Holy Spirit, ever dwelling, In the holiest realms of light; Holy Spirit, ever brooding, O'er a world of gloom and night; Holy Spirit, ever raising, Those of earth to thrones on high; Living, life-imparting Spirit, You we praise and magnify.

"Holy Spirit, ever working, Through the Church's ministry; Quick'ning, strength'ning, and absolving, Setting captive sinners free; Holy Spirit, ever-binding, Age to age and soul to soul. In communion never ending, You we worship and extol." ♫

The Holy Spirit, who once hovered "over the face of the waters" in the dark void of creation's beginning (Genesis 1:2b), is still "brooding o'er a world of gloom and night." The Spirit, "ever working through the church's ministry," enlightens the sinful darkness of hearts and minds through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the ministry of the church, through the Word and the Sacraments, the Spirit is "quick'ning, strength'ning, and absolving." He quickens, that is, He brings life from death. He strengthens our faith through the Word and absolves repentant hearts through the forgiveness of sins.

We may not often speak—or sing—about the Holy Spirit, except on the festival of Pentecost. But perhaps that is because it is the Spirit's task to point, not to Himself, but to Jesus. The Lord said of the promised Spirit, "He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14). On Pentecost, that is what the Spirit did: He glorified Jesus.

Fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead, the promised Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, and on that early Pentecost in Jerusalem, the sermon was all about Jesus. The apostle Peter announced that Jesus of Nazareth had been delivered into the hand of His enemies and crucified. Then, "God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it" (Acts 2:24). God had exalted the risen Savior as Lord and Messiah. The Holy Spirit was at work that day, glorifying Jesus and calling people to repentance as the listening crowd asked the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter answered, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37b-38). Those who heard and received the Word were baptized, and on that day the Spirit added about three thousand people to the church (see Acts 2:41).

That is what the Holy Spirit did on that early Pentecost, and that is what He is doing still today. Through the proclamation of the Word, in Baptism and the Lord's Supper, in the forgiveness of sins, the Spirit unites the church in a communion—a fellowship—that extends across the centuries. The Spirit binds us "age to age and soul and soul," until we join with all the saints in eternal fellowship and offer our Spirit-born praise before the throne of God.

THE PRAYER: Holy Spirit, we pray that You would work through our witness to set captive sinners free and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. How do you know the Holy Spirit is working in your life?

2. How would you describe the Holy Spirit to someone?

3. Do you think believers in the first century were more aware of the Holy Spirit and the way He operates than we are today? Why or why not?
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling." Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
How do you know the Holy Spirit is working in your life?

Unser Täglich Brot - Immer mit der Ruhe

https://unsertaeglichbrot.org/2020/05/31/immer-mit-der-ruhe/

Immer mit der Ruhe

Lesung: Philipper 2,12-18 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: 2. Chronik 13-14; Johannes 12,1-26

Denn Gott bewirkt in euch den Wunsch, ihm zu gehorchen, und er gibt euch auch die Kraft zu tun, was ihm Freude macht.

Früher half ich meinem Vater, wenn er Bäume fällte. Mit einer Zwei-Mann-Schrotsäge schnitten wir die Stämme in kleine Stücke. Ich war jung und voll Elan und trieb die Säge oft mit Gewalt ins Holz. „Immer mit der Ruhe“, mahnte dann mein Vater. „Lass die Säge selbst arbeiten.“

Ich denke an die Worte von Paulus an die Philipper: „Gott [be]wirkt in euch“ (Philipper 2,13). Immer mit der Ruhe. Lass Gott in dir wirken.

C.S. Lewis hat einmal gesagt, Wachstum sei viel mehr als nur zu lesen, was Jesus sagt, und es dann zu tun. „Eine echte Person, Jesus, . . . tut etwas an dir . . . er verwandelt dich nach und nach in . . . einen neuen kleinen Christus, ein Wesen, das . . . an seiner Kraft, seiner Freude, seinem Wissen und seiner Ewigkeit Anteil hat.“

Gott wirkt auch heute noch. Setze dich Jesus zu Füßen und höre, was er zu sagen hat. Bete. „Bewahrt euch in der Liebe Gottes“ (Judas 1,21 Lut). Und denke den ganzen Tag daran, dass du ihm gehörst. Er arbeitet in dir, das darfst du sicher wissen.

„Aber sollen wir nicht Hunger nach Gerechtigkeit haben?“, fragst du. Stell dir ein kleines Kind vor, das versucht, ein Geschenk von einem hohen Schrank zu holen. Seine Augen glänzen vor Begierde. Sein Vater spürt, was es will, und holt das Geschenk herunter.

Das Wirken ist Gottes Sache, das Freuen unsere. Immer mit der Ruhe! Eines Tages ist es geschafft.
Was bedeutet es für dich, dass Gott in dir wirkt? Was hättest du gern, das er in dir tut?
Herr, ich danke dir, dass du mein Herz und mein Handeln veränderst, damit ich Jesus ähnlicher werde. Bitte schenke mir die Demut und Bereitschaft, von dir zu lernen.


© 2020 Unser Täglich Brot
Früher half ich meinem Vater, wenn er Bäume fällte. Mit einer Zwei-Mann-Schrotsäge schnitten wir die Stämme in kleine Stücke.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Daily Lectionary for SATURDAY, May 30, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/revised-common-lectionary-complementary/2020/05/30?version=NIV

The Daily Lectionary
SATURDAY, May 30, 2020
Psalm 33:12-22; Exodus 20:1-21; Matthew 5:1-12
(Revised Common Lectionary Year A)

Our help and our shield
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
     the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
     and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
     all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
     who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
     no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
     despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
     on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
     and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
     he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
     for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
     even as we put our hope in you.

Moses brings the Ten Words to Israel
20:1 And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Jesus brings blessings to his community
5:1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

He said:

3  “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4  Blessed are those who mourn,
     for they will be comforted.
5  Blessed are the meek,
     for they will inherit the earth.
6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
     for they will be filled.
7  Blessed are the merciful,
     for they will be shown mercy.
8  Blessed are the pure in heart,
     for they will see God.
9  Blessed are the peacemakers,
     for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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 Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Daily Lectionary is a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year A. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2020, we will be in Year B. The year which ended at Advent 2019 was Year C. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org
The Daily Lectionary for SATURDAY, May 30, 2020
Psalm 33:12-22; Exodus 20:1-21; Matthew 5:1-12

The Daily Prayer for SATURDAY, May 30, 2020

https://biblegateway.christianbook.com/common-prayer-liturgy-for-ordinary-radicals/shane-claiborne/9780310326199/pd/326199
The Daily Prayer
SATURDAY, May 30, 2020

Augustine of Hippo, a fifth-century bishop and theologian, wrote, “The way to Christ is first through humility, second through humility, third through humility. If humility does not precede and accompany and follow every good work we do, if it is not before us to focus on, if it is not beside us to lean upon, if it is not behind us to fence us in, pride will wrench from our hand any good deed we do at the very moment we do it.”

Lord, we expect good things from you because you are good and you promise to give to those who ask. Teach us to know not only how to ask but also for what we should ask. May all our asking, seeking, and knocking be to further your kingdom in some way, no matter how small or mundane. Amen.

Verse of the Day for SATURDAY, May 30, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/verse-of-the-day/2020/05/30?version=NIV

Psalm 56:4
In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Read all of Psalm 56

Listen to Psalm 56

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 - Sábado 30 de mayo de 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/un-dia-vez/2020/05/30

Semana de celebración: La búsqueda

Busquen primeramente el reino de Dios y su justicia, y todas estas cosas les serán añadidas.

Esta semana la hemos dedicado a celebrar todo lo que Dios ha hecho en nuestras vidas y lo que hará. Hemos realizado un recorrido por distintas situaciones en las que hemos visto su protección, sus nuevas oportunidades, su fidelidad y sus regalos de amor. La pregunta que cabe ahora es la siguiente: ¿Cómo es que después de todo lo que Él hace por ti no vas a la iglesia?

Dios quiere que vayas a la iglesia porque allí crecerás en lo espiritual y escucharás palabra que necesitas oír. Además, cuando vas a la iglesia, estás ayudando a guardar tu vida y la de tus hijos de modo que crezcan en sus caminos rodeados de personas que se preocuparán por sus vidas. También te podrás sentir útil. Muchas veces las personas me dicen: «¿En qué puedo ayudar si quiero servir a Dios y deseo hacer algo por los demás?».

Pues bien, las iglesias están llenas de necesidades, ya que son los hospitales de los enfermos del alma. De la misma forma en que tú saliste adelante y te ayudaron, otros necesitan hoy de ti.

Si ya estás en la iglesia, ámala, cuídala, apoya a tus pastores y sigue haciendo lo que Dios te manda. Si aún no vas a ninguna iglesia, es tiempo de buscar una que tenga una sana doctrina y donde tus hijos se puedan sentir felices. Deja el pretexto de que trabajas mucho y no tienes tiempo de ir a la iglesia. ¡Mucho cuidado! Dios podría pensar igual: «No tengo tiempo para tus problemas tampoco».

Hoy celebramos que la búsqueda de Dios y tener una iglesia es una bendición.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
¿Cómo es que después de todo lo que Él hace por ti no vas a la iglesia?

Standing Strong Through the Storm - Saturday, May 30, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/standing-strong-through-the-storm/2020/05/30
WHICH ARE YOU?

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

A young woman went to her mother and told her how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked. “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength? Or are you an egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Do you have a fluid spirit, but after a loved one's death, a relationship breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or are you like a coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If I am like the bean, when things are at their worst, I get better and change the situation around me through Christ-likeness.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

RESPONSE: Christians are like carrots, eggs, or coffee beans. They don’t know how strong their response is until they get into hot water. Which are you?

PRAYER: Lord, help me realize that every experience You give me, every person You put in my path, is the perfect preparation only You can see.

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

The NIV Couples Devotional - Saturday, May 30, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/couples-devotional-bible/2020/05/30

Measuring Our Success

Luke 9:18–27

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”
Luke 9:25 (NIV)

Now and again I see mortality clinging to my steps like a lengthening shadow, and I am caught wondering why I am still here. A question chiseled in stone over the grave of a child recycles in my brain: “If I am so quickly done for, what on earth was I begun for?”

Life feeds that cynicism. Since people around us often cannot see our soul inside the material stuff with which we surround it, we are often beguiled into amassing possessions and accomplishments to proclaim our worth.

Yet all of those things can be stripped away from us in a matter of seconds. Recently I cried with a 30-something fellow who appeared to be a glowing testimony of success. He grew up in a close-knit family, has an athletic body and a movie-star face, married a beautiful and intelligent woman, lives in a luxurious home, and is buying a business that could become a multibillion-dollar corporation before he retires.

But now all the good looks and money mean nothing. A foolish action has fractured his marriage and torn him from his children. “Two weeks ago I thought I had it all. Now I don’t know if I have anything,” the man said. “I would trade everything to have my wife and children back.”

His sad words made me think about Jesus’ comment to his disciples. Jesus had set his sights on his future suffering in Jerusalem, and he was trying to prepare his friends for that reality. Jesus knew he would encounter denial, devastation, and death. Rather than excusing his disciples from such painful experiences, Jesus warned them that they too would face some tough times. Indeed, it was a requirement of following him: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

God meant for us to enjoy the marvelous beauty and material resources of our world. But Jesus wanted to make clear that we can’t truly delight in possessions if they consume us while we are consuming them.

When Jesus made his pilgrimage to the cross, his disciples accompanied him to Jerusalem. True, they would all have their moments of quivering fright that sent them scrambling into hiding, yet they joined him as best they could. And eventually they all suffered great loss as they took up their crosses and followed him.

The greatest thing about courtship and marriage is that we don’t have to go through life alone. We share our journey with another. We reaffirm the faith and values we have spoken about in the easy times so that when we have to slog through the swamp of despair or navigate the hard places of loss, we can encourage each other to put our feet in appropriate places and keep our eyes trained on our Savior, Jesus Christ. Together we can follow him.

Wayne Brouwer

Let’s Talk
  • What are our 20-year goals? In what ways could those goals nurture or destroy our relationship? How would Jesus nudge us to change or clarify our plans?
  • What is our net worth? How do we measure it? What questions can we ask to help us think through the true value of our possessions?
  • What have we accumulated as a couple that we will pass on to our children? How might those things be a blessing? A hardship?
Now and again I see mortality clinging to my steps like a lengthening shadow, and I am caught wondering why I am still here.

LHM Daily Devotions - May 30, 2020 - "Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees"

https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20200530

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees"

May 30, 2020

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

This is really quite a picture, isn't it—this little glimpse the Bible gives us into the present state of the created world and its "bondage to corruption"? The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. In Christ deliverance is on the way. Sure, there are hardships now along with sadness and sorrows—plenty of them. But these very sufferings, in Christ, have become heralds of joy just around the corner: they point to the redemption of our poor bodies in God's glorious resurrection, like the resurrection of the Son of God who gave Himself for the life of the world.

I know things are very difficult right now for many of you. St. Paul knew this was often the case for us, too. That's why he compared our human experience to a mother in the agonizing pains of childbirth. Though the delivery is an ordeal, who cares about the pain once the child has been born? Jesus holds for us all the promise of delivery—of more than delivery!—of an eternal future where all our struggles will end, all our heartaches will be calmed, and all our tears will be wiped away (see Revelation 21:1-4).

The waiting for the Son of God's return holds triumph for all who trust Him as their Lord and Savior. With faith in Christ, you have the God-given victory that overcomes the world—and all that is ugly and foul within it. Hang on to Jesus, my dear friend. In Him and Him alone is true life—both now and forever. Though God's work in the world may be hard to understand sometimes, we rejoice and celebrate as we look forward to all that He has in store for us.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, lead us to the solid ground of faith's assurance that we may have all joy and peace in believing, and may abound in hope for today. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Does life overwhelm you sometimes? What do you do to get through these times?

2. How is it that creation itself is groaning in childbirth pains? Can you think of examples of how this might be?

3. How have you helped someone lately in a way that's out of the ordinary for you?
From "God Made You to Laugh," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour. Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Does life overwhelm you sometimes? What do you do to get through these times?