Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Sunday Lectionary Readings for SUNDAY, July 5, 2020 — 5th Sunday After Pentecost

The Sunday Lectionary Readings
SUNDAY, July 5, 2020 — 5th Sunday After Pentecost
[Ordinary 14, Proper 9]
(Revised Common Lectionary Year A)

Come to Me!
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:10-17; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Opening Statement
Emerging from each of these vivid texts is the power of discovery. The faithful servant stumbles across Providence's plan as he helps Isaac and Rebekah discover one another (Genesis 24). Yahweh's works exist to "make known to all people" the splendor of God's kingdom (Psalm 145:12). The Apostle discovers that regardless of intention, evil is never far away (Romans 7:21). Finally, Our Lord Jesus invites us to discover a secret—what has been hidden from the wise intelligentsia is given to those who would come to him (Matthew 11:25b, 28).

Opening Prayer
(adapted from Genesis 24, Romans 7)
Like an oasis in the desert, worship satisfies our sin-besieged souls. Today, help us find the good in this life by delighting in your presence, and help us find the hope you have placed in our innermost selves. Amen.

Prayer of Confession
Merciful and loving God, we are so grateful for your redeeming love for each one of us. We confess that there have been times of doubt in our spirits. We confess that when the times of difficulties are upon us, we don’t always believe that you will take our burdens. We feel we have to always be in control, trying to demand the desired outcome. Help us to place our trust in you. Remind us that you surround us continually with your care, you never just let us go to drift aimlessly about. Open our hearts and spirits again to your healing powers. For we pray these things in the name of Jesus, the one who will take our burdens and give us peace. Amen.

Words of Assurance
Hear the good news, dear friends! Jesus releases us from our burdens. Place your whole trust in his love. Amen.

The Collect
(from the Book of Common Prayers)
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer of the Day
You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised. You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Grant that we may believe in you, call upon you, know you, and serve you, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

First Reading
Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
24:34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’

42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’

46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’

“She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’

“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said.

59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

   “Our sister, may you increase
     to thousands upon thousands;
   may your offspring possess
     the cities of their enemies.”

61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

God has anointed you
10 Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
     Forget your people and your father’s house.
11 Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
     honor him, for he is your lord.
12 The city of Tyre will come with a gift,
     people of wealth will seek your favor.
13 All glorious is the princess within her chamber;
     her gown is interwoven with gold.
14 In embroidered garments she is led to the king;
     her virgin companions follow her—
     those brought to be with her.
15 Led in with joy and gladness,
     they enter the palace of the king.

16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers;
     you will make them princes throughout the land.

17 I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
     therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.

Second Reading
The struggle within the self
7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25a Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Gospel Acclamation
Blessed are you, Lord of heav’n and earth; You have revealed these things to little children.

The Gospel
The yoke of discipleship
11:16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
     and you did not dance;
   we sang a dirge,
     and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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.

Weary travelers, go now in peace with the love of Christ in your hearts. You are released from your burdens! Go with joy to serve God. Amen.

Rest in Me

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, July 5, 2020 — 5th Sunday After Pentecost
Come to Me!
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:10-17; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

“Come to Me!”

Today, our gospel message comes to us from the 11th chapter of Matthew, beginning with the 28th verse.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Father, You sent your Word to bring us truth and your Spirit to make us holy. Through them, we come to know the mystery of your life. Help us worship you, one God in three persons, And reveal yourself in the depths of our being, by proclaiming and living our faith in you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

“Come to Me!”

Consider WHO is asking us to come, HOW LONG it will take, WHERE he is taking us, WHAT he is asking us to do, and WHY?

Jesus wants EVERYONE to be saved, but in this text, He doesn’t seem to want EVERYONE to come. He only wants certain kinds of people—the WEARY and BURDENED. He doesn’t ask the rich or the wealthy or the energetic or the happy-go-lucky. He exclusively asks only for the weary and burdened: the two go together—it’s an invitation to people who are weary because of carrying a burden.

It’s a neat thing that Jesus doesn’t limit it to a particular type of burden or weariness. It can be any kind. You can be weary of working so hard at your job. You can be weary of being sick. You can be weary of living because every part of your body aches. You can be weary because you are sick and tired of arguing with your spouse, parents, or children. You can be weary of everyone asking you for help. ANYONE who is weary is told to come. You can be weary of having everyone attacking you for one thing or another.

A woman at the well in Samaria who had led a very promiscuous life—she was in and out of relationships. She would be the last one you would think would settle down and want to come to Jesus. Yet when Jesus spoke to her, He saw that she was tired of her broken relationships. She was almost ready for rest, but she didn’t realize it. So He spoke to her about her lifestyle and welcomed her to come to Him.

Why doesn’t He ask for the healthy and the energetic and the successful? It isn’t that He doesn’t want them, it’s just that they don’t want what he has to offer anyway. They don’t want to rest. It reminded me of when my children were younger. When you said the word “nap” they treated it as torture! They would run and hide. When daughter was born, I tried to bargain with her. I’ll read this one book, and then it’s time to sleep—no complaining! “Ok! Yes, yes,” she would say. But then when I finished the book, she would howl and howl. I soon realized that I couldn’t reason with her at bedtime. I just had to force her to lie down.

Who are those who don’t want to come to Jesus? Those who don’t think they need a nap—those who are too busy to rest. Everything is going well for them. They’re healthy. They’re successful. Their business is going well. Their children are successful. They are happy in life and active—very active. They have work to do. They have places to visit. It isn’t really that Jesus doesn’t want them—He just knows that they don’t want to come to Him. They would consider it boring and a waste of time. Which kind of a sinner are you? Are you someone who realizes that you need rest? Or are you someone that doesn’t have time for rest?

If we are supposed to come to Jesus, it would probably be good to define and know where He is. Some might say, “God is in nature! He’s in the trees! Jesus is in my heart!” Those things can all be true, to a point. Kind of like when you remember someone who has gone when you hear a song or go to a place where you used to hang out. Memories flow of the times you used to have together. But it’s not quite the same either as when you were actually with the person at the time. Jesus is more than a memory. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) He claims to actually be where we speak of Him and proclaim His name. This is why we speak His words and sing songs of Him in worship. Jesus especially comes to us in the Lord’s Supper, where he says, “Take and eat, this is my body. Take and drink, this blood is the new covenant in my name.” There’s something special here, something sacred about meeting together and singing God’s Word into each other’s hearts and receiving His sacrament together. There’s something sacred, God says, about when our babies are baptized into Christ to receive His Holy Spirit. Jesus is where His word and sacraments are, as Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter 4.

Here’s another neat thing about it—that He tells us to come when He knows we need rest. If someone came as your invited guest and laid around and slept and asked you to massage their shoulders, you might be a bit angry. If they just made a mess and didn’t offer to clean anything up, you might say, “I’m not inviting THEM any more.” But here we come to church messy with sin. We come worn out from complicated relationships and needy for love and attention, and Jesus TELLS us to come. If your spouse breaks his leg or your grandparents want to move in with you, you realize it might take a lot of work that you don’t have the time or energy to do. You’d rather pay the money to have them go into rehab or a long term facility than come to your house. But Jesus doesn’t do that. He KNEW how much work we would cause Him. He knows how much TIME it would take to take care of us. Yet He tells us to COME to Him anyway. He wants us to come, for one purpose—to give us REST. This is the whole reason He went through all of the work of coming into our world and dying on the cross in the first place. He died on the cross to give us a comfortable bed of love and forgiveness to rest in.

If you came here worn out from a relationship that was giving you stress and anger and fighting, you would find someone who doesn’t yell at you and just command you to knock it off. He knows how worthless you feel. But here in His blood and His cross, He just says, “Be forgiven. Be loved. I consider you of great worth in my sight. I look at you as holy and precious as my baptized child. You don’t have to match up to a standard to get this forgiveness. If you’re tired, just lay here.” If you’ve been working your tail off to get your bills paid, here you find that Jesus already paid your bill when He said, “It is finished” from the cross. You don’t owe God one dime for your salvation. Your salvation isn’t based on how much money you give in the offering plate. If you come in here tired because your body is worn out and you can’t sleep well and can’t move very well, just take a seat. He gives you a beautiful room with a window to the skies—pointing you forward to heaven and the resurrection from the dead. Someday you’ll be able to run and jump and see and hear as you’ve never done before. Why? Because He lives, you too will live through faith in Him. That’s it. Here Jesus feeds you with a beautiful meal that is meant to refresh your soul. He bathes you in a beautiful bath that washes your sins away. He does all of this to give you rest!

Maybe you already know you’re forgiven. Perhaps you’re good with that. Perhaps you think the church thing is a bit boring—because you want to be active with your faith. You want to make a difference in the world. You want to go and do stuff too! I can respect that. I don’t like sitting around much either. But if you listen to the rest of this text, you’ll see that as Christians, we don’t just sit around in this world waiting for Jesus to come. When Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples were just standing there and staring into the sky. So the angels came and basically said, “Quit standing here looking at the sky! He’ll come again—don’t worry—you won’t miss Him!” So they left from there. They went on with their lives. When Abraham was called to faith, he didn’t just sit there! He was called to go to Canaan and settle his family there. Peter wasn’t reinstated just to keep fishing on the Sea of Galilee. He had places to go and people to bring the Gospel too. He was imprisoned and persecuted, and throughout the process, all of these forefathers in the faith still could rest in Jesus.

Listen to what Jesus says. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Think about what a yoke is used for. It binds an animal to a plow to break the ground, and it also binds one animal to another, to make the plow move easier under the power of two animals. When we are rested in His grace and mercy, it doesn’t make us lazy. It binds us to Jesus with His mercy and forgiveness, which gives us the energy to live. We don’t want to give up on life. We find reasons and strength to live!

I just recently read a book called Escape from Camp 14. It was an incredible story about a young man named Shin who escaped from a prison camp that he was born in, in Northern Korea. He was taught from little on to confess his sins to the teachers so they could be beaten in front of the class. He was also taught the honor of working in the fields and being loyal to the state. If anyone broke the rules, he was rewarded for snitching on them. One girl was beaten to death by her teacher for having six grains of corn in her pocket. One day, he overheard his mother and brother talking about escaping from North Korea, so he told on them and then had to witness them being put to death in front of him. He thought he would be rewarded for telling on them. Instead, he was strung up by his hands and feet and put over hot coals, because the officials didn’t know that he had snitched on his parents. Afterward, he was put in a cell with terrible blisters on his back with an older man he just called “Uncle.” It was a terrible system of sin and work and death. Hopeless in every sense!

Here’s where the story gets very interesting! Amid this prison cell, with no light, Uncle nursed Shin back to health. He spoke to him of the beauties of the outside world that Shin had never been to before, and in doing so opened up a whole different world to Shin that he never knew existed. Amid the deepest darkness of a cell, by caring for his wounds and speaking to him, Uncle gave Shin a reason to live! Shin was never the same. He wasn’t content with living in North Korea after that. That prison cell helped to save him. There’s so much more to the story, but Shin eventually escaped from North Korea and is now living in America. With the help of missionaries, he’s been brought to faith in Christ, and he is telling his story.

Doesn’t a similar thing happen to us as Christians? If we try to live life without being yoked to Jesus, the weight is too much to bear. Sooner or later, life wears us out, no matter how bull-headed we are. But Jesus puts the yoke of the law and failure around His neck. He bears the burden of sin. He then yokes us to Himself so that HE can carry that burden of sin, death, and hell. He then takes the reins and leads the way through life. He doesn’t drive us with a bullwhip. He doesn’t yell at us. He is gentle and humble in heart. Whatever struggles we have in life are “easy” and “light” when we know that He bore the payment for our sins. Whatever evils we face in the world, it is easier knowing that Jesus is leading us and giving us strength throughout. It is so much better knowing that this life is not all that life is about. It makes us want to live again, knowing that through faith in Jesus, we go to heaven when we die.

It’s an interesting thing when you try to put a toddler down for a nap. They kick and whine and moan, but if you stick with it and lie down with them, they’ll finally give up. When their head finally hits the pillow, they usually fall asleep pretty quickly. They wake up refreshed, and they are ready to go! They aren’t grumpy anymore. Nobody has to tie me down to take a nap anymore. I’ve grown to appreciate what beautiful things they are. They are gifts from God.

Jesus hasn’t invited us here to torture us but to bless us with rest. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” In a sense, that’s why we come here every Sunday, to take a nap with Jesus. Not to just sleepwalk through life, but to find the energy to live! I remember a mother and daughter who visited a church service in Topeka years ago. You could read from the daughter’s body language that just sitting there for one hour was like pulling teeth. She couldn’t wait to get out at the end, and the service didn’t even last one hour. The pastor had preached as good of a sermon as possible, and he thought to himself, “Was it really that bad?” It saddened him. He felt sorry for her. She needed rest, but she didn’t want to rest. How about you? We’ve encouraged all of you here on this Sunday for one reason—to give you Jesus and give you rest! I hope that after you receive the body and blood and sing the Word to each other, that you found a God who made you feel welcome and forgiven in Jesus. I hope you felt refreshed to know that Jesus wants you to be here and help you relax in his arms. I hope you want to come again soon. Welcome Home.

Let us pray: Lord of the seasons and of all life, we come to you this day with so many cares and concerns on our lives. We have planned for the summer months as times of relaxation and refreshment. We need to take some time to stop the frantic running around, to focus on your healing love, to let go of all those demands that weigh us down. Heal and restore us, O Lord. Help us be the church in times of leisure as well as in times of work and stress. As we have brought our cares to you in our prayers, let us bring our lives to your healing mercies. Strengthen and heal us, Lord. Get us gently ready for all the joyful opportunities that stretch before us. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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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 Joel Pankow.
Jesus says, “Come to Me.” Who does he say it to, and why?

The Daily Prayer for SUNDAY, July 5, 2020
The Daily Prayer
SUNDAY, July 5, 2020

Hear this proverb often quoted by John Perkins, pioneer of Christian community development: 

Go to the people, Live among them, Learn from them, Love them. Start with what they know, Build on what they have: But of the best leaders, When their task is done, The people will remark, “We have done it ourselves.”

Lord God, grant us grace to be faithful witnesses to those we encounter today. May we share your love in a way that sparks others to catch your fire. Amen.

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, July 5, 2020

Isaiah 12:4
In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Read all of Isaiah 12

Listen to Isaiah 12

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 05 de julio de 2020
Pide sabiduría en vez de paciencia

Dichoso el que halla sabiduría, el que adquiere inteligencia. Porque ella es de más provecho que la plata y rinde más ganancias que el oro.

¡Ay, dame paciencia, Señor! Esta frase la utilizamos todos en momentos cuando no podemos más. Y tiene sentido decirla, pero lleva implícita una petición que quizá desconozcas y te sorprendas cuando te la explique.

La paciencia solo se desarrolla con dificultades y pruebas. Si le dices a Dios: «Señor, dame paciencia», le pides que te mande una prueba de manera que aprendas a desarrollar la paciencia. ¿Y a quién le gustan las pruebas y las dificultades? ¡A nadie!

Esto lo aprendí con un pastor y me dije que nunca más le pediría algo así a Dios. Más bien le pido que me dé la sabiduría que me ayude a pasar la situación que esté viviendo.

Así que es más valioso ser sabio que paciente.

Aprende a esperar en el tiempo de Dios. Él nunca falla y siempre llega a tiempo.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
Esta frase la utilizamos todos en momentos cuando no podemos más.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, July 5, 2020

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Until the fall of President Ceausescu in 1989, Romania was one of the most important countries for Open Doors Bible delivery ministry. We supplied countless Bibles and books—especially to Pastor Paul Negrut of the Baptist Church in Oradea. He later wrote to Brother Andrew and said, “In a divinely appointed network, we would receive a small number of Bibles to be distributed quietly and carefully among believers. Although the food supply was scarce, the Romanian believers treasured the Word of God more than anything in this world. When asked to choose between food parcels and Bibles, every Romanian that I know asked for Bibles.

“What Open Doors has done for us is better described in the words of a Christian lady who whispered to her husband, ‘The angels have arrived.’ Their little daughter heard those words and rushed into the next room to see the angels. To her surprise and disappointment, the ‘angels’ she saw were two bearded men casually dressed. The little girl had great difficulty reconciling her imagination about angels with the reality she saw. As strange as this looked for that little girl, this is the spiritual reality: for us, you have been God’s angels that brought us the Bread of Life.”

Previously, Open Doors knew that the little Baptist Church of Oradea was likely to be knocked down at any moment as it was located in a slum clearance area. A new building was badly needed because the little church was nowhere near big enough to accommodate all the believers anymore. However, the possibility of the church being granted planning permission for a new building was very slim.

At the beginning of 2005, we found that the little church still had not been pulled down, but it was no longer in use. A beautiful, big, new church had taken its place—a gigantic church, which seats 3,000. Every Sunday it is completely full, as it was in the past, right into the aisles. During the week, Bible studies are held for about 400 teenagers and young adults.

Dr. Paul Negrut’s church is heavily involved in evangelism and missionary work, reaching to Central Asia, Russia, and the Middle East. They even have a theological university where pastors receive training. Students come not only from Romania but also from the missionary fields. One student is from Yakutsk (Siberia).

But not all believers in Romania are getting on well. Pastor Paul says, “In my experience, 95% of the believers who faced the test of external persecution passed it, while 95% of those who now face the test of prosperity fail it.”

But he also quickly analyzed the situation of persecution well: “It is not persecution itself but the lessons learned under persecution that make and keep the church and an individual believer strong in the Lord…what makes the difference is how we respond to persecution and how we respond to freedom.”[1] Stand strong in the Lord!

RESPONSE: Today I will prepare myself for the hard assignments in responding biblically to challenges.

PRAYER: Pray for Romania that God will revive His church to stand strong in the face of prosperity.

1. Audrey Dorsch, “After the Persecution—What Then?” Faith Today (November/December 1992), p.60.

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 - July 5, 2020 - "Before You, Lord, We Bow"

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Before You, Lord, We Bow"

July 5, 2020

♫ "Before You, Lord, we bow, Our God who reigns above, And rules the world below, Boundless in pow'r and love. Our thanks we bring, In joy and praise, Our hearts we raise to You, our King!

"Earth, hear your Maker's voice; Your great Redeemer own; Believe, obey, rejoice, And worship Him alone. Cast down your pride, Your sin deplore, And bow before the Crucified." ♫

The author of our hymn is Sir Francis Scott Key, who wrote the familiar lyrics that became America's national anthem. But today's hymn is not about loyalty to an earthly nation. Our hymn is a song of allegiance to the Lord of all nations. "Our God who reigns above" is the King of kings, who "makes nations great, and He destroys them; He enlarges nations, and leads them away" (Job 12:23).

The nations of the earth have their own rulers, and their approach to government takes many forms. Most often the rule is carried out for the good of those whom they govern. Although in some places the ruler may serve evil and selfish ends. Some rulers are monarchs who inherit the throne; others are dictators who take power for themselves by military might, and many are leaders elected by the people they govern. We as Christians are called to honor and obey our rulers, so long as their rule does not lead us in ways that are contrary to God's commands.

Earth's rulers may take up their power in many ways, but the Lord before whom we bow came into His kingly power by allowing His subjects to crown Him with thorns and nail Him to a cross, where He suffered and died for the sins of the world. Jesus our Lord was buried and raised to life on the third day and exalted to reign in glory at the right hand of God. Earthly kings, when faced with rebellious subjects, will often deal harshly with them. Our King came to earth to lay down His life to save us, rebels who rejected His lordship. By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Word, we are called to repentance, our sins are forgiven, and we are welcomed into His kingdom.

Our hymn calls on the earth to hear its Maker's voice, a voice heard as "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1a). But only in God's Word will the earth hear of the Maker's love for the world He created. Jesus, our crucified and risen King, said that repentance and forgiveness were to be proclaimed in His Name to all nations (see Luke 24:47). Through our witness we call on the nations to cast down their pride and deplore their sin. We pray that one day they will acknowledge Jesus as Lord.

The final verse of this hymn is a prayer that, on the Last Day, our native land might send forth from its tombs "a glorious band" to offer eternal praise to heaven's high King. We pray that the Holy Spirit would work through our witness and by the power of the Gospel turn rebels into saints who will joyfully "bow before the Crucified."

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we have heard Your voice in the Word, and we worship You as King of kings. Lead us by Your Spirit to share the Good News of salvation with others. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. What characteristics make for a great and noble political leader?

2. How can a person lead a nation and still be obedient to God?

3. If you were the leader of some nation, what three things would you want to be known/remembered for?
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Before You, Lord, We Bow." Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
What characteristics make for a great and noble political leader?

Unser Täglich Brot - Erneuerte Kraft

Erneuerte Kraft

Lesung: Psalm 103,1-5 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: Hiob 30-31; Apostelgeschichte 13,26-52

Lobe den Herrn . . . er macht dein Leben reich.

Der Psychiater Robert Coles bemerkte einmal ein Muster bei Patienten, die ausbrennen, während sie anderen dienen. Das erste Warnzeichen ist Müdigkeit. Dann kommt der Zynismus, dann Bitterkeit, Verzweiflung, Depression und schließlich Burnout.

Nachdem ich ein Buch über die Heilung von zerbrochenen Träumen geschrieben hatte, begann eine arbeitsreiche Zeit als Konferenzsprecherin. Den Menschen zu helfen, nach einer Enttäuschung Hoffnung zu finden, war reichlich lohnend, aber mit Kosten verbunden. Eines Tages, als ich auf die Bühne treten wollte, dachte ich, ich würde ohnmächtig werden. Ich hatte nicht gut geschlafen, ein Urlaub hatte meine Müdigkeit nicht behoben und der Gedanke, anschließend die Probleme einer anderen Person zu hören, erfüllte mich mit Angst. Ich befand mich in dem von Robert Coles beschriebenen Muster.

Die Bibel nennt zwei Strategien zur Bekämpfung von Burnout. In Jesaja 40 wird die müde Seele erneuert, wenn sie auf den Herrn hofft (V. 29-31). Ich musste in Gott ruhen und ihm vertrauen, dass er arbeitet, anstatt in meiner eigenen schwindenden Kraft weiterzumachen. Und Psalm 103 sagt, dass Gott uns erneuert, indem er uns mit Gutem erfüllt (V. 5). Während dies Vergebung und Erlösung einschließt (V. 3-4), kommen auch Vorkehrungen der Freude von ihm. Als ich meinen Zeitplan überarbeitete, um mehr Gebet, Ruhe und Hobbys wie Fotografie darin aufzunehmen, fühlte ich mich wieder gesund.

Burnout beginnt mit Müdigkeit. Halten wir ihn auf. Wir dienen anderen am besten, wenn unser Leben aus Anbetung, aber auch aus Ruhe besteht.
Welche Lasten musst du jetzt an Gott abgeben? Wie erneuerst du deine Kraft durch Gebet, Bibel und gesundes Spiel?
Liebender Herr, ich möchte heute kraftvoll aufsteigen wie der Adler. Ich vertraue darauf, dass du in meiner anstrengenden Situation wirkst und nehme deine Gaben, die die Seele erfüllen, mit Freude entgegen.

© 2020 Unser Täglich Brot
Der Psychiater Robert Coles bemerkte einmal ein Muster bei Patienten, die ausbrennen, während sie anderen dienen.