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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Online Ministry for Week 8/8 - 8/14


Bountiful God, who gives to us all that we need to sustain our lives: 
Open our hearts today to hear your words of compassionate justice, 
that we may focus on the ways in which you intend us to live 
and be of service to you by serving the world. 
In Jesus' Name, we pray.  

Daily Reading for the Week

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life by Rick Warren, DMin; Daniel Amen, MD; & Mark Hyman, MD (Zondervan). © 2013 by The Daniel Plan. For Abundant Health.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8 (The Message)

Thoughts are automatic. They are based on complex chemical reactions and information from the past. But thoughts exert a powerful influence over your life and body. When you have an angry, anxious, hopeless, or helpless thought, your brain releases chemicals that stress your body and disrupt how you feel both physically and emotionally. Whenever you have a happy, hopeful, or optimistic thought, your brain releases chemicals that raise your spirits and encourage you to feel good. Where are your thoughts?

—Dr. Daniel Amen
 Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

Countercultural Lifestyle (Luke 6:27–36)

Scripture points to an intimate connection between compassion and forgiveness. According to Jesus, a distinctive sign of Abba’s children is the willingness to forgive our enemies: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). In the Lord’s Prayer we acknowledge the primary characteristic of Abba’s children when we pray, Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” [Matthew 6:12]. Jesus presents his Abba as the model for our forgiveness: the king in Matthew 18 who forgives a fantastic sum, an unpayable debt, the God who forgives without limit (the meaning of seventy times seven).

God calls his children to a countercultural lifestyle of forgiveness in a world that demands an eye for an eye—and worse. But if loving God is the first commandment and loving our neighbor proves our love for God, and if it is easy to love those who love us, then loving our enemies must be the filial badge that identifies Abba’s children.

Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible

A Fresh Start (Isaiah 53:4–12)

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, conclude a poem titled “The New Colossus” composed by Emma Lazarus. With torch in her hand, Lady Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom and a welcoming beacon for emigrants coming to America in search of success, happiness and a fresh start.
Do you feel tired or poor? Do you long for freedom? Do you feel tossed by life’s storms? Most of us experience these conditions at some point. Isaiah describes Someone who understands exactly how we feel. Even his own people rejected this “man of suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Many hated him. Nothing about his mere physical appearance attracted people. In short, most of us wouldn’t have given this person the time of day.

Yet this passage describes the most compelling individual in the history of the world. Somehow we can’t resist him. Perhaps it’s what he offers: himself as one like us—one who knows sorrow and yet who offers peace and relief. He offers himself as the sacrifice for our sins. He is the Messiah. And Isaiah makes it clear that Jesus identifies with all the difficulties we could ever face. He knows what it’s like to be crushed, despised, rejected and in deep emotional pain. He knows the quiet desperation we endure when faced with mounting bills, job loss, marital discord, parenting challenges and all the other stuff of life that—if we’re wise—sends us to our knees.

Take a few moments to reread the passage for today and let the words sink into your consciousness. This Jesus, the very Son of God, came to Earth for the very purpose of becoming one of us, albeit temporarily. So when we kneel before Jesus, we kneel before one who can relate to our struggles and hardships. He kneels alongside us to revitalize our energy, provide relief from our stress, set us free from sin and enable us to endure life’s storms. Then, through his powerful Holy Spirit, he offers us a fresh start.

Taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible


Prayer of Thanksgiving

Shepherd of Israel, you faithfully lead your people throughout the world. We praise you for your tireless acts of salvation, even when we have turned away from your crook. By your grace, O God, nurture and strengthen your flock wherever they gather. Make us bold witnesses of Christ, your Son, whose light and truth reflect your love. We dedicate our offerings and ourselves to your service, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd. Amen. (Psalm 80)

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