Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Daily Readings for SUNDAY, September 13, 2020 — 15th Sunday After Pentecost

The Daily Readings
 SUNDAY, September 13, 2020 — 15th Sunday After Pentecost
 Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
 The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

Opening Sentences
The passages from Exodus and Matthew share the theme of deliverance. Neither the Israelites nor the slave in Jesus’ parable do anything to earn their deliverance—it is offered in grace and mercy. The Israelites respond with a song of praise to God. The slave, however, does not show grace or mercy and is punished. Romans offers a theme of being set apart. Just as we have received grace, mercy, and forgiveness, we, who are in Christ, are set apart to do likewise.

Opening Prayer
In this moment, gracious God, you have called us away from the world to a place and a time where we can commune with you and with one another. Hallow this communion, we pray. Calm our anxious spirits, that we may be set apart to hear your word of truth through which we receive grace to bring about the obedience of faith. Open us to the reality of your all-embracing love, both in this place and in the wider world. May we, by our words and actions, be bearers of your kingdom, in the name and Spirit of the Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Confession
Just like Peter, Lord, we want to get all “legalistic” about forgiveness. We want to know if one time to forgive someone is sufficient. We might even be willing to extend forgiveness twice, but we have a tendency to follow the adage, “Once burned, twice shy.” Teach us to be humble and merciful. Remind us of the many ways in which you have offered, time and time again, your forgiving love to us. Heal our wounds and bind up our brokenness. For we ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
In the name of Jesus Christ, each one of us has received healing mercies. We are now given opportunities to offer forgiveness and redemption to one another. May the peace of Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.

First Reading
Israel delivered at the sea
The great work of deliverance is attributed to God and God alone. Literally, the passage refers to “the mighty hand of the Lord” (v. 31), which powerfully acted on behalf of his people and broke the shackles of their slavery. The people clearly understood the might of God displayed in this act because they responded in awestruck fear. The great work of a great God propelled Israel into their subsequent journey toward the promised land.

Throughout human history the strong arm of the Lord has worked on behalf of his people. He gave them victory and delivered them from the dire circumstances caused by their sinful rebellion (Ps 89:13; 118:15–24), foreshadowing the climactic moment when God broke into human history through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ perfect life, substitutionary death and victorious resurrection accomplish a far greater work of deliverance than the exodus from Egypt. Christ’s work accomplished a “great” salvation for all his people (Heb 2:3). Like the nation of Israel responded, our proper response to the great work accomplished by this great God is awestruck worship.
14:19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.

27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.

Tremble O earth
Our God is the God of all creation. He split the Red Sea and parted the Jordan River (v. 3). He made the mountains and earth shake (vv. 4, 7). He turned solid rock into springs of water (v. 8). Marking moments in Israel’s history, the psalmist focused his meditation entirely on God’s power and majesty. This is the second of six Passover prayers sung by devout Israelites.

As you pray, consider how Jesus can bring a spring of living water from hardened hearts (John 4:10, 14). Ask Him to do that among your loved ones who have turned away from God. Use this psalm as a guide to praise God for His awesome power.
114:1 When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;

2 Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.

3 The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.

4 The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

5 What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?

6 Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;

8 Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.

Second Reading
When brothers and sisters judge each other
Paul took the “Jesus Movement” all across the Roman Empire in the First Century CE. He brought the message of the Risen Christ to people and places far away from the Jewish communities where Jesus lived and taught. People of diverse practices and backgrounds around the Mediterranean world were drawn to new communities founded by Paul. Conflicts often arose in those communities about what constituted faithful practices: was it necessary for a Gentile follower of Jesus to first become a Jew, and follow Jewish Law? Or, could a Gentile follow Jesus without first adopting a Jewish way of life, including dietary practices and Sabbath observance? These conflicts were serious, and could potentially tear communities apart. In his letter, Paul does not take a side. Instead, he encourages all in the community to keep eyes on what is important: faithfulness to Jesus, thanksgiving to God, leaving judgment to God. Within this view, many different ways of following Jesus are possible.
14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

The Gospel
A parable of forgiveness
To help Peter understand the meaning of forgiveness, Jesus told this parable about a king who compassionately forgave a servant’s huge debt (v. 27). Later, the servant who had been set free refused to forgive a friend’s small debt and sent the man to jail (v. 30). By telling this parable, Jesus made it clear to Peter that he hadn’t realized the immensity of his own sin—sin that God would forgive through Jesus’ death on the cross. If Peter had been humble enough to see his true brokenness, he never would have asked Jesus the question.

Take a moment to consider the size of your sin. Then thank God for size of His forgiveness.
18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Here end the Readings

Click HERE to read today’s Holy Gospel Lesson message

The Apostles’ Creed

  • 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.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. 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.

As you have been forgiven, now go into a world that needs your forgiving, healing touch. Bring peace and hope to others, sharing God’s love with them. 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, King James Version (KJV).

The Daily Bible Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, 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.
The Daily Bible Readings
SUNDAY, September 13, 2020 — 15th Sunday After Pentecost
Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

“Forgiveness” By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today, our gospel message comes to us from Matthew 18:21-35, “A parable of forgiveness.”

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (ESV).

Heavenly Father, you sent your Son to reveal your will for our lives and redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire us with confidence that you are with us in the midst of the storms of life, bring peace to our troubled souls, and lead your church throughout the ages. Enable us to live as your redeemed saints, that our lives may witness to our faith. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Right here at the beginning of this sermon, let us quietly and honestly ask whether we know anyone from our own circle of friends and family whom we have not forgiven for some wrong that person might have done us; a person from whom we once separated ourselves in anger—perhaps not even in open anger, but in quiet bitterness, thinking: I cannot stand it any longer, I can no longer associate with this person.

Or are we really so inattentive that we say we do not know anyone like this? Are we so indifferent to other people that we do not even know whether we are living in peace or at odds with them? Whether one after another may not someday stand up and accuse us, saying: “You separated yourself from me in discord—you could not tolerate me—you broke off fellowship with me—you found me unsympathetic and turned away from me—I once did you wrong, and you left me alone—I once wounded your honor, and you broke with me—and I could not find you again—I often looked for you, but you avoided me—and we never spoke frankly with each other again, but I wanted nothing more from you than your forgiveness, and yet you were never able to forgive me. Here I am now, and I am accusing you—do you still even know me?”—Whether or not in that particular hour, names will come back to us that we hardly recognize anymore—many, many wounded, rejected, poor souls whose sin we did not forgive. And among these people perhaps even a good friend, a brother or sister, one of our parents?

And at that moment, a single, great, threatening, terrible voice will speak against us: You have been a hard person—all your friends cannot help you; you were hard and proud and as cold as a stone; you did not concern yourself with any of us; you were indifferent to all of us and hated us, you never knew what forgiveness might accomplish; you never knew how it benefits the person who experiences it and how it liberates the person who forgives. You have always been a hard person.

We make it too easy for ourselves with other people. We entirely blunt our sensibility, and then believe that not thinking ill of someone is the same as forgiving that person—yet in so doing, we utterly fail to see that, as a matter of fact, we have no positive thoughts about the person— and to forgive would mean having nothing but good thoughts about the person and supporting that person whenever we can. But precisely that is what we avoid—we do not support such persons. Instead, we continue alongside them and grow accustomed to their silence; indeed, we do not take it seriously to begin with—and yet the whole point is to support such persons—to support them in all situations, with all their difficult and unpleasant sides, including any injustice and sin they may commit even against me—to be silent, to support, and to love without ceasing—that would come close to forgiveness!

Those who do indeed take this posture toward others, toward their parents, their friends, their wives, their husbands, and toward strangers, in fact, toward all those we encounter in our lives—they know how difficult this really is. They know how often they want to say: I just cannot do it any longer; I just cannot stand this person any longer; I’m just worn out from it. One cannot always just keep on as before. “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?” How long must I endure this person who acts so harshly toward me, hurting me, wounding me, who is so completely inconsiderate and insensitive and who has hurt me immeasurably—Lord, how often…? At one point or another, it simply must end; wrong simply must be called for what it is; my own rights simply cannot continue to be violated on and on—“As many as seven times?” We probably will smile at Peter here, since seven times does not seem like all that much to us—how often have we already forgiven and overlooked? And yet we certainly should not smile. Indeed, we have absolutely no reason to do so with regard to Peter here. To forgive seven times, genuinely to forgive, would mean making the best of the wrong that has been done to us, would mean repaying evil with good; it means accepting the other person as if that person had always been our dearest friend—no small feat. Indeed, it is what we tend to call forgiving and forgetting: Live and let live. But then genuinely forgiving, out of pure love, love that simply refuses to turn the other person loose and instead insists on continuing to support that person—that is certainly no small feat.

Such questions are a real torment. How can I deal with this person?
How can I endure this person? Where do my own rights begin concerning this person? When these questions arise, let us always go to Jesus, just as did Peter. If we were to go to anyone else, or if we were simply to ask ourselves, we would only get insufficient help or no help. Jesus, however, will indeed offer help, albeit only in a quite peculiar fashion.

Not seven times, Peter, but seventy-seven times, Jesus says, and he knows that only in this way can he help Peter. Do not count, Peter; instead, forgive without counting—do not torment yourself with the question of how long—endlessly, Peter, endlessly, that is what it means to forgive—and precisely that is what grace is for you, that alone will make you free.

When you count, once, twice, three times, the whole matter gets increasingly threatening—and your relationship with that person gets increasingly agonizing—but do you not notice that as long as you are still counting, for that long, you are still reckoning that earlier sin against the person, for that long you still have not really forgiven that person, not even for the first time! Peter, free yourself from such counting—forgiving and pardoning know neither number nor end. You need not worry about your own rights, since they are already taken care of with God—you may forgive without end! Forgiving has neither beginning nor end; it takes place daily, unceasingly, ultimately coming from God. This is what liberates us from forced relationships with others; here, we are liberated from ourselves; here, we may surrender our own rights merely to help and serve others.

Listen, there is no longer any need for us to be so sensitive—we gain nothing by it—no need for us to be so concerned about our own honor— no need to be indignant when others repeatedly wrong us—no need to continually judge those persons—we need only accept them just as they are and forgive them for everything, absolutely everything, without end, without qualification. Is it not truly an enormous grace that we can enjoy such peace with our neighbor,—that no one and nothing can ever disturb that peace? Here our friendships, marriages, brotherhood, and sisterhood receive precisely what they need, namely, firm, enduring peace through forgiveness.

When he said this to Peter, he told and gave him something joyous, something wonderful, something that would free Peter from the agonizing opposition between people. You may forgive one another, Jesus says. This is truly good news.

What is unfortunate is that precisely when Jesus wants to give us such enormous help, something so truly great, we immediately say: Ah, but how difficult it is, what Jesus is putting on us here, how unbearably difficult.

Rather than helping us, this merely burdens us further. For who can do this, forgive brother or sister for everything, and bear it together with them? All our defiance reawakens: No, I do not want to do it, and I cannot do it. Nor have the other persons really earned such forgiveness.

And behold, it is only when we start talking in this way that Jesus gets angry with us. We may ask him for help without end—but to resist his help, saying: That is not really help at all,—Jesus does not want to hear that from us. “You cannot forgive, you do not want to forgive, the other person does not deserve to be forgiven,—indeed, who do you think you are, talking like that?”

And now, with great anger, Jesus recounts the terrible story about the roguish slave. This slave experienced mercy and yet remained a hard person, to whom all mercy was thus denied and who experienced God’s terrible judgment. And by telling us this angry story, Jesus gives us the greatest help possible by showing us the path to true forgiveness. It is this path that we now want to understand.

Are we able to recall a moment in our own lives in which God called us to judgment, a moment in which we were lost ourselves, in which our own lives were at stake? God demanded that we render an account of ourselves, and yet we could show nothing but debts, immeasurably great debts. Our life was stained and impure and guilty before God, and we had nothing, absolutely nothing to show but debts and even more debts. Let us recall how we felt at that time, how we had nothing to hope for, how futile and meaningless everything seemed. We could no longer help ourselves; we stood there completely alone—facing nothing but punishment, righteous punishment. Before God, we were utterly unable to stand up straight. Before God, before the Lord God, we fell down on our knees in despair and pleaded: Lord, have patience with me—and we came out with all sorts of prattle, just as does the roguish slave here: I promise to pay back everything and to make restitution—that sort of talk, even though we knew too well that we would never be able to pay it. And then suddenly, everything changed; God’s countenance was no longer filled with anger, but rather with enormous misery and pain because of us human beings.

And so God remitted all our debt, and we were forgiven. We were free, and all anxiety departed from us, and we were once again joyous and were once again able to look God in the eye and to offer thanks.

Thus did we, too, once appear just like this roguish slave. But how forgetful we are! And now we go and seize someone who may have done us a slight wrong, who may have deceived us or slandered us, and we say to that person: Make good what you have done to me! I can never forgive what you have done! Can we not see that what we really ought to say is: Whatever that person has done to me is nothing, absolutely nothing compared to what I have done to God and to that other person? Who has called us to condemn that person when we ourselves are so much more culpable?

But, looking at verses 31-34, now we have forfeited grace; now all our earlier guilt emerges anew; now wrath rains down upon us—now we are lost people, lost because we have had contempt for grace. That is the whole lesson here: Though you certainly see the other person’s sin, you do not see your own. Only by recognizing in penitence God’s mercy for you will you yourself then also be capable of forgiveness.

How can we get to the point that we are able to forgive each other’s sins, all of those sins, from the bottom of our hearts? My dear friends, those who have experienced what it means for God to lift us up out of a great sin and to forgive us, those to whom God has in such an hour sent another brother or sister to whom we might then confess our sin, whoever knows how a sinner resists such help because the sinner simply does not want to be helped, and whoever nonetheless has experienced how a brother or sister genuinely can release us from our sin in God’s name and in prayer—that person will surely lose all inclination to judge or to hold grudges and will instead want but one thing: to help bear the distress of others, to serve, to help, to forgive,—without measure, without qualification, without end,—such a one can no longer hate sinful brothers and sisters, but will instead want only to love them all the more and to forgive them for everything, everything. Lord, our God, may we experience your mercy so that we, too, may practice mercy without end! Amen.

O blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so often easy to see the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.

I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner. Amen.

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Sermon from The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Sermon contributed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
How can we get to the point that we are able to forgive each other’s sins, all of those sins, from the bottom of our hearts?

Prayer of the Day for SUNDAY, September 13, 2020

Prayer of the Day
SUNDAY, September 13, 2020

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Lord our God, we know that we are your children, and in this certainty we gather in your presence as a community. Grant us your Spirit, the Spirit who works in us and frees us from the many evils that still torment us. Be with us and let the power of your great grace and mercy be in our hearts so that we may gain the victory and lead joyful lives on earth in spite of our many shortcomings, blunders, and sins. For your grace is great, much greater than all our failings. You are our God and Father, and we want to keep our consciences clear today and always through your grace. Amen.

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, September 13, 2020

1 Peter 3:8
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.
Read all of 1 Peter 3

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Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

Ichthus Ministries Daily Devotions — Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old

Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old

♫ "Your hand, O Lord, in days of old Was strong to heal and save; It triumphed over ills and death, O'er darkness and the grave. To You they came, the blind, the mute, The palsied and the lame, The lepers in their misery, The sick with fevered frame.

"O be our great Deliv'rer still, The Lord of life and death; Restore and quicken, soothe and bless, With Your life-giving breath. To hands that work and eyes that see, Give wisdom's healing pow'r, That whole and sick and weak and strong May praise You evermore." ♫

Our hymn is a catalog of Jesus' miracles, of His compassionate heart and hands that were "strong to heal and save." Jesus healed the blind, the deaf and mute, the lepers and the lame.

The prophet Isaiah foretold that when the Messiah came, "the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped" (Isaiah 35:5). Jesus' miracles proved He was who He claimed to be-the promised Messiah of Israel. Jesus told those who rejected Him, "Even though you do not believe Me, believe the works" (John 10:38b). At Pentecost, Peter told the crowds that Jesus of Nazareth was "a Man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst" (Acts 2:22b).

Fulfilling all that was written of Him in the Scriptures, the Messiah was betrayed, tried, and condemned. According to God's purpose, Jesus was nailed to a cross, offered up as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Filled with fear and despair, Jesus' disciples hid behind locked doors. Their Lord had overcome "darkness and the grave" for others, but now the miracle-working Messiah lay dead and buried, sealed in a tomb. Then on the first Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead, the great miracle by which He "was declared to be the Son of God in power" (Romans 1:4a). The nail-pierced hands that "in days of old" were "strong to heal and save" are still strong to heal and save today. Jesus is "our great Deliverer" and stands always ready to "restore and quicken, soothe and bless."

United to Jesus' death and resurrection through Baptism, we are members of His body, the church. Our "hands that work and eyes that see" are His hands and eyes in the world. With love and compassion, we restore and soothe and bless others in Jesus' Name. Through the miracles of help and healing all around us (although we often explain many of these in terms of science), the Lord is still at work. Through the proclamation of the Gospel, the Spirit of the Lord is present to heal and save. We pray that "whole and sick and weak and strong" will join us in praising our risen and glorified Lord, now and evermore.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, let our hands and eyes be Your hands and eyes in the world. Work through us to heal and save, so that others will come to know and worship You as Lord. Amen.

Dr. Carol Geisler, based on the hymn, "Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old."

Reflection Questions:
1. Do you have a favorite miracle or supernatural event from Jesus' ministry? Why?

2. How do you think you would have reacted to witnessing one of Jesus' miracles?

3. Does God perform miracles today? Can you give an example?
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Do you have a favorite miracle or supernatural event from Jesus' ministry? Why?

Standing Strong Through the Storm — LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

One of the Anabaptists of the 16th Century who died in flames was Dirk Willem. His story is particularly touching because he forfeited a real chance to escape prison and death when he turned back to help one of his pursuers.

Dirk was captured and imprisoned in his home town of Asperen in the Netherlands. Knowing that his fate would be death if he remained in prison, Dirk made a rope of strips of cloth and slipped down it over the prison wall. An alert guard began to chase him.

Frost had covered a nearby pond with a thin layer of ice. Dirk risked a dash across it. He made it to safety, but the ice broke under his pursuer who cried for help. Dirk believed the scripture that a man should help his enemies. He immediately turned back and pulled the floundering prison guard from the frigid water.

In gratitude for his life, the man would have let Dirk escape, but a Burgomaster (chief magistrate) standing on the shore sternly ordered him to arrest Dirk and bring him back, reminding him of the oath he had sworn as an officer of the peace.

Back to prison went Dirk. He was condemned to death for being re-baptized, allowing secret church services in his home, and letting others be baptized as adults there.

The record of his sentencing concludes: “all of which is contrary to our holy Christian faith, and to the decrees of his royal majesty, and ought not to be tolerated, but severely punished, for an example to others; therefore, we the aforesaid judges, having, with mature deliberation of council, examined and considered all that was to be considered in this matter, have condemned and do condemn by these presents in the name; and in the behalf, of his royal majesty, as Count of Holland, the aforesaid Dirk Willems, prisoner, persisting obstinately in his opinion, that he shall be executed with fire, until death ensues; and declare all his property confiscated, for the benefit of his royal majesty.”

Dirk was burned to death on May 16, 1569. He showed love to his enemy and “saved” his life.

RESPONSE: Love for our enemies even surpasses the love of our own lives. This is the Jesus way of the cross!

PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to show love to those who are my enemies—even giving up my life.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.
One of the Anabaptists of the 16th Century who died in flames was Dirk Willem. His story is particularly touching, because he forfeited a real chance to escape prison and death when he turned back to help one of his pursuers.

John Piper Devotional —7 Reasons Not to Worry (Part 3)
7 Reasons Not to Worry
(Part 3)

“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6 contains at least seven promises designed by Jesus to help us fight the good fight against unbelief and be free from anxiety. In Parts 1 and 2 we saw Promises 1–4; now we look at 5–7.

PROMISE #5: Do not be anxious then, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “With what shall we clothe ourselves?” For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things (Matthew 6:31–32).

Do not think that God is ignorant of your needs. He knows all of them. And he is your “heavenly Father.” He does not look on, indifferently, from a distance. He cares. He will act to supply your need when the time is best.

PROMISE #6: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

If you will give yourself to his cause in the world, rather than fretting about your private material needs, he will make sure that you have all you need to do his will and give him glory.

This is similar to the promise of Romans 8:32, “Will [God] not also with [Christ] freely give us all things?”

PROMISE #7: Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

God will see to it that you are not tested in any given day more than you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will work for you, so that “as [your] days, so shall [your] strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25, KJV).

Every day will have no more trouble than you can bear; and every day will have mercies sufficient for that day’s stress (Lamentations 3:22–23).
Matthew 6 contains at least seven promises designed by Jesus to help us fight the good fight against unbelief and be free from anxiety. In Parts 1 and 2 we saw Promises 1–4; now we look at 5–7.

Un dia a la Vez — Oración por sueños hechos realidad
Oración por sueños hechos realidad

Camino, Señor, en torno a tu altar, proclamando en voz alta tu alabanza y contando todas tus maravillas.

Dios mío, hoy acudo a ti en oración junto a los que como yo hemos visto cumplidos nuestros anhelos más profundos. Levanto mi mirada a ti y no me queda más que decirte… ¡Gracias!

Gracias porque me acompañaste en momentos de angustia. Gracias porque de esta prueba pude aprender muchas cosas. Gracias porque puedo contárselas a otras personas a través de mi ministerio y testificarles que el Dios que sirvo me salvó, me sanó y me trajo de vuelta a una vida nueva con un esposo y un hogar para mis princesas.

Señor, mientras tenga vida te serviré de manera incondicional y no me cansaré de hablar de tus maravillas.

Permite, Jesús, que este libro les sirva de ayuda a las personas que aún dudan de tu poder y que logren conocerte mejor y cambiar el rumbo de sus vidas.

Te lo pido en el nombre de Jesús, amén y amén.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
Oración por sueños hechos realidad

Unser Täglich Brot — Der freundliche Wal

Der freundliche Wal

Lesung: 1. Mose 4,8-16 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: Sprüche 16-18; 2. Korinther 6

Soll ich etwa ständig auf ihn aufpassen?

Eine Meeresbiologin schwamm in der Nähe der Cook-Inseln im Südpazifik, als plötzlich ein 50.000 Pfund schwerer Buckelwal auftauchte und sie unter seine Flosse steckte. Die Frau dachte, ihr Leben sei vorbei. Aber nachdem sie langsam im Kreis geschwommen war, ließ der Wal sie los. Dann sah die Biologin einen Tigerhai, der die Gegend verließ. Die Frau glaubte, dass der Wal sie vor der Gefahr beschützt hat.

In einer Welt der Gefahren sind wir aufgerufen, auf andere aufzupassen. Aber man könnte sich fragen, ob man wirklich erwarten kann, dass ich für jemand anderen verantwortlich bin. Oder mit den Worten Kains: „Soll ich etwa ständig auf ihn aufpassen?“ (1. Mose 4,9). Der Rest des Alten Testaments erklingt mit der donnernden Antwort: Ja! So wie Adam sich um den Garten kümmern sollte, so sollte Kain sich um Abel kümmern. Israel sollte über die Schwachen wachen und sich um die Bedürftigen kümmern. Doch sie taten das Gegenteil, indem sie das Volk ausbeuteten, die Armen unterdrückten und sich dem Ruf widersetzten, ihre Nächsten wie sich selbst zu lieben (Jesaja 3,14-15).

Doch in der Geschichte von Kain und Abel wachte Gott weiterhin über Kain, auch nachdem er weggeschickt wurde (1. Mose 4,15-16). Gott tat für Kain, was Kain für Abel hätte tun sollen. Das ist eine schöne Vorahnung dessen, was Gott in Jesus für uns tun würde. Jesus hält uns in seiner Obhut, und er ermächtigt uns, zu gehen und dasselbe für andere zu tun.
Wen hat Gott dir anvertraut? Wie hast du diese Verantwortung wahrgenommen? Wie hast du versucht, sie zu umgehen oder zu vermeiden?
Mitfühlender Herr, danke, dass du für mich sorgst. Du wachst über mir. Hilf mir, das auch für andere zu tun.

© 2020 Unser Täglich Brot
Eine Meeresbiologin schwamm in der Nähe der Cook-Inseln im Südpazifik, als plötzlich ein 50.000 Pfund schwerer Buckelwal auftauchte und sie unter seine Flosse steckte.