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Tuesday Connection- July 7, 2020

Silence: 2 minutes /Spend time in prayer and silence with God, asking Him to meet with you and speak to you.

“Be still, and know that I am God; – Psalm 46:10

 Confession:

Lord God, we rejoice in your resurrection and in your promise to return. Help us live today as people who await the fulfillment of your kingdom. We confess we often look for comfort outside of you. Bend our knees to the hard work of prayer, worship, repentance, and intercession. Throughout history you have used the seemingly weak to nurture justice, to fight poverty, and to walk bravely toward human thrones of power proclaiming another way. Help us find comfort and hope in our afflictions, knowing you are present with us always. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, Amen.

Reading & Devotional

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

In his book The Power Of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about “keystone habits.” A keystone habit is a habit that brings about a cascade of changes resulting in a considerable outcome. Exercise is a keystone habit. It affects our energy, attitudes, health, body image, many things that can result in a significant change in our life. The practice of planning our day the night before can cause many small behaviors that result in a substantial change. Thankfulness is a Spiritual Keystone Habit. Can you imagine what would happen in your life if you created a habit of gratitude and thankfulness? You would be more open to God’s direction. You would stop letting anger, worry, and fear derail your life. You would be more optimistic and open to opportunities to move through your situations instead of getting stuck in them. Thankfulness is a spiritual discipline that will change everything! But more than that, giving thanks in all our circumstances is God’s will for your life! Today begin to develop the keystone habit of thankfulness.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, how often I react to life with negativity and discouragement. I know that You want me to give thanks in all things, but so often I fail. Today, help me Lord build the habit of gratitude and thankfulness so my life will glorify You.

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Conexión del jueves – 2 de julio de 2020

Silencio, quietud y centrado ante Dios (2 minutos)

Lectura bíblica y devocional:

Efesios 4:1-2 (NTV)

Por lo tanto, yo, prisionero por servir al Señor, les suplico que lleven una vida digna del llamado que han recibido de Dios, porque en verdad han sido llamados. Sean siempre humildes y amables. Sean pacientes unos con otros y tolérense las faltas por amor.

¿Alguna vez escuchaste la vieja broma de la iglesia que a la gente le gustaba contar unos de otros? Dice así: vivir arriba con los santos que amamos; oh eso será gloria Pero vivir abajo con los santos lo sabemos; bueno, esa es una historia diferente! Hay verdad en el humor cursi. Puede ser difícil vivir bien el uno con el otro en este viaje llamado vida. Cuando golpea una crisis, puede parecer casi imposible.

La Biblia establece un alto estándar para la forma en que el seguidor de Jesús interactúa con los demás. En algunas versiones de la Biblia, usa las palabras “soportar” o “soportar”. “Con toda humildad y gentileza, con paciencia, teniendo amor unos con otros”, enseña Efesios 4: 2. Esto, por supuesto, suena perfectamente bien en un versículo bíblico, pero en la vida real, con las personas en su hogar, las personas con las que creció, las personas con las que trabaja, las personas en su comunidad … no es tan simple.

Seamos sinceros. Nos irritamos el uno al otro. En el lado positivo, esa irritación puede ser utilizada por Dios para dar forma a nuestros personajes, al igual que el papel de lija que trabaja en los bordes ásperos o los cortes utilizados para liberar el brillo de un diamante. Las personas que Dios ha colocado en su vida, con sus peculiaridades y fallas, pueden inventar el “cinturón de herramientas” perfecto que Dios ha reunido solo para usted, para lograr un crecimiento en su vida que nunca sucedería de otra manera. “A medida que el hierro se agudiza, una persona se agudiza a otra”, dice Proverbios 27:27.

Sin embargo, debemos permitir que ese trabajo tenga lugar en nuestras vidas, así como la pieza de madera debe permanecer bajo el movimiento del papel de lija y el diamante en el vicio del cortador de gemas. Tenemos que soportarlo, y con ellos, en otras palabras.

A veces, estás viviendo con el comportamiento de otra persona, día tras día, y puedes llegar a un punto en el que la mejora de tu carácter no es suficiente para motivarte a estar con esa otra persona un minuto más, y mucho menos otro día o el resto de vida. Necesitas un “por qué” más grande, y el versículo antes del versículo “aguanta” en Efesios 4 nos da una razón convincente. “Yo … te ruego, escribe el apóstol Pablo,” que lleves una vida digna de tu llamado, porque has sido llamado por Dios. Siempre sé humilde y gentil. Sea paciente el uno con el otro, teniendo en cuenta las faltas del otro debido a su amor “. (Efesios 4: 1-2)

Tal vez conozcas el dicho: “Cuando señalas con un dedo, hay tres dedos apuntando hacia ti”. Cuando recuerdo eso, yo también tengo idiosincrasias irritantes, soy impaciente, egoísta (y la lista continúa), me ofrecieron gracia cuando Jesús me llamó por primera vez a una relación con Él. El seguidor de Jesús tiene un llamado que todo comenzó con gracia. Nos vio en nuestro pecado y nos amó, cuando no había razón para ello. Él se entregó por nosotros y nos dio la capacidad de amar a través del poder del Espíritu Santo, que la Biblia dice, viene a vivir en nosotros cuando nos rendimos a Dios. (Efesios 1: 13-14) Se nos ha dado una gracia inmerecida y recordar esto es lo que nos da la capacidad de soportar a los demás. “Vivir separados de una actitud de gracia continua”, dice el pastor Craig Denison, “nos priva de la alegría de vivir sin expectativas poco realistas de los demás. Cuando somos lentos para ofrecer gracia por los pecados de otros, salimos del reino de Dios y colocamos nuestra esperanza y seguridad en este mundo fugaz. [1]

En la vida cotidiana, y exponencialmente más, en tiempos de crisis, esperar que otros sean fáciles de vivir siempre terminará en conflicto. “Pero a cada uno de nosotros se nos ha dado gracia”, declara Efesios 4: 7. Estamos llamados a ser dadores de gracia, a cambio. ¿Quién, en tu vida, necesita desesperadamente esa gracia hoy?

Lectura de recursos: Efesios 4: 1-16

 

El Padre Nuestro (reza lentamente esto) Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino, Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra, como en el cielo. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día. Y perdona nuestras ofensas, como perdonamos a los que nos ofenden. Y no nos dejes caer en la tentación, sino líbranos del maligno. Para ti es el reino, el poder y la gloria para siempre, Amén.

Wednesday Connection- July 1, 2020

Silence: 2 minutes /Spend time in prayer and silence with God, asking Him to meet with you and speak to you.

“Be still, and know that I am God; – Psalm 46:10

 Confession:

Holy God, when we confess our sins to You, when we don’t cover them up, we are joyful because You lift the burden of our guilt. When we come to You in need, You are our hiding place. You save us from trouble. You protect us with Your constant love. Teach us, Lord, in the ways we should go so that we can live as You intended and rejoice in Your love forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reading & Devotional

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

What do you do when you are afraid? That is the question that Andrew Brunson asks.  Brunson is a soft-spoken man with a kind-looking face.  He is also a man that knows something about fear.  Brunson is an American pastor who was unjustly imprisoned by the Turkish government for two years, held as a political pawn on outlandish, false charges.   Under three life sentences, he sometimes suffered in solitary confinement and at other times he was jammed in cells that were crowded to double capacity. Brunson was the only non-Muslim.  Conditions alternated between brain-boiling hot in the summer and mind-numbing freezing cold in winter.

Here is a man who can tell you about persecution for his faith.  Here is a man who has lived it.  When he talks of fear, you want to hear what he has to say, what helped him through this terrifying ordeal.

Brunson grew up in Mexico in a missionary family.  His mother, he said, came from a long line of people who had suffered for Jesus.  When he was first imprisoned, she visited him and told him, “It’s your turn to stand in that line.”  “I knew that others were coming after me,” Brunson recounts, “I knew I had to stand well.”

Andrew Brunson will tell you that it is normal to be afraid. The question, he says, is “Will you stand in spite of your fears?”  What was it, that enabled Brunson to persevere?  Was it his PhD in New Testament?  All of the Scripture he had memorized?  The biographies about heroes of the faith that he had read?  No, he says.  The key is to be found in intimacy with God, which came down to a simple devotion that he clung to.  But that intimacy came through what he calls, the Valley of Testing.

“I expected to be filled with joy but I experienced the silence of God,” Brunson admitted.  “Even after I prayed, ‘Not my will, but your will be done–even when it could mean prison for the rest of my life,’” he said, “I’d get knocked down even worse.  I would have to try to crawl my way back to where I could say that prayer again.  This was beyond my strength.  I was thoroughly broken.”

In his second year of imprisonment, after being returned to prison after a third court appearance, Brunson was shocked, when he found himself simply saying, “I love you Jesus.  Whatever you do or don’t do, I will follow you!  If you never get me out of here, I will follow you.” He realized that his heart had changed: “I began to fight for intimacy with God.”

There is a depth of friendship with God that only comes through testing, says Brunson.  “God does test his sons and daughters.  God gives difficult assignments to his children.  These can be very painful, and they can stretch us beyond what we ever expected.”

Andrew Brunson came to know what it is to love God and to leave his questions with God.  “There is a depth of friendship with God,” he says, “that only comes through testing.” Submitting did not change the facts of my imprisonment, but it did change my heart.” “A lover will endure much more than a servant,” says Brunson. “God has many servants but few lovers.”

God allows the foundation of the things that we trust in to be shaken, Pastor Brunson tells us. Fear did not disappear in a Turkish prison, but it was there, he said, that Brunson experienced Jesus as worthy of his all.  Would you or I stand, in spite of our fear?  Have we come through our Valleys of Testing as friends of God, in intimate love relationship with Him?  Andrew Brunson’s message for us is that this is possible.

Resource Reading:  1 John 4:16-19

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Monday Connection- June 29, 2020

Silence: 2 minutes /Spend time in prayer and silence with God, asking Him to meet with you and speak to you.

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:15-17

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Confession:

We praise You for Your goodness and love. Forgive and correct the wrong we have done. We have turned from the way of Your Son Jesus, and we have not cared for our neighbors. We have permitted pride to blind and anger to burn. We have failed to live the new life You have given us. We come to You with little to offer except our sin, and we seek Your mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

The Our Father (slowly pray this)

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

TUESDAY CONNECTION – JUNE 23, 2020

Silence and Centering  –    PAUSE FOR  2 MINUTES OF SILENCE

“Be still, and know that I am God; – Psalm 46:10

Confession:

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,  which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, by thought, word and deed, against Thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake. Forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please Thee In newness of life, to the honor and glory of Thy name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Reading & Devotional:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.”  You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:13-14

How do you keep track of your tomorrows?  Do you plan them out, meticulously calendaring work and social events on your phone and reviewing tomorrow’s agenda before bed?  Or do you stand by your paper calendar and a scribbled to-do list?  Even if you don’t plan for the tomorrows of life, you probably operate under the assumption that you should.  Human wisdom has generally run along the lines of the African proverb that says, “Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”  If we’ve got a plan ready to execute, we may feel that when tomorrow arrives, we will have whatever it takes to meet it head on.  We are in control of our destinies!

Except for when we aren’t.  When something like a global pandemic strikes and all of our tomorrow’s suddenly freeze in place and we’re afraid that perhaps they may not even arrive. That’s when the thought occurs that maybe we weren’t actually in control of anything.  At all. Control was an illusion that simply made it easier for us to get through our days.

We aren’t the first people who had convinced themselves that they were in control of their futures.  Sometime before AD 62, the writer of the Bible book of James cautioned, “Look here you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year.  We will do business there and make a profit. Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15)

The Biblical view of life is that God is in control of all my tomorrows.  The Bible specifically says that God “works all things according to the counsel of his will…” (Ephesians 1:11).  “Yes,” you may say, I know that and yet, I still struggle with fear over an unknown tomorrow.”  Author Deborah Howard says, “We must know that God is in control.  Often we lose sight of that.  It’s easy to start believing that we are in control, especially when things are going our way.  We see ourselves as masters of our own fate, so to speak.  We can carelessly glide our way through life that way until when? Until we are brought face to face with a situation definitelyobviously and completely out of our control.”

Perhaps that is how life has felt to you lately.

James wrote to Christians who were isolated and, we can tell from what James wrote to them about, that they were experiencing trials and poverty.  They may have scattered from Jerusalem after Stephen was stoned to death there.  Clearly, none of these early Christians had thought that tomorrow’s agenda would include oppression and lonely trials.  James encouraged them to “consider it all joy.” (James 1:2) But he told them why they still had a reason for joy.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2-3 NASB).  James goes on to point out that when we put up with the unexpected hardship our tomorrows bring by submitting to what God is doing in our lives, our ability to endure increases and develops so that we ultimately grow to be as he says, “perfect and complete, needing nothing.”  (James 1:4).

The Bible tells us, that when life feels out of control, God is in control of the life of the Christ follower.  The unexpected hardships we didn’t plan for, and can’t manage, have a perfection-working job to do that God is masterminding.  If this is news to you, be encouraged!  If it’s a reminder for you, share this reassurance with someone who needs it today.

 

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Monday Connection – June 22, 2020

Silence: 2 minutes /Spend time in prayer and silence with God, asking Him to meet with you and speak to you.

BIBLE READING:

Matthew 10:24-39

 

Confession: 

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,  which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, by thought, word and deed, against Thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake. Forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please Thee In newness of life, to the honor and glory of Thy name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

A30: The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (2020) from A Sermon for Every Sunday on Vimeo.

The Our Father (slowly pray this)

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.