Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Mind Reader

by David Feddes

Do you ever wish you could read minds?

If you’re single and you’re attracted to somebody, you might not be sure if that person is interested in you. Wouldn’t it be nice to be a mind reader? That way, if the person were interested in you, you’d know, and you’d feel free to say how you felt. And if they weren’t interested, you’d know that, and you could keep your feelings to yourself and save yourself some embarrassment.

If you have children, don’t you wish you could read their minds sometimes? If your kids have a hard time saying what’s on their heart, you’d still know what they’re thinking, and you could relate to them better. Reading minds would also help you decide whether to give your teenagers permission to go out at night. If they talked about going to study with friends, but they really planned on going to a wild party, you could read their mind and know they were lying and refuse them permission. If they were telling the truth, your mind-reading ability would show you that, and you could send them out gladly and confidently.

A lot of us can think of times when we’d like to read minds. Family members wish they could read each other’s minds. Workers wish they could read their boss’s mind, and employers wish they could read their workers’ minds. Dealmakers in business and government would love to be able to read the minds of people they’re negotiating with. There are all sorts of times when we’d like to read someone else’s mind.

But we can’t do it. You’re not a mind reader, and neither am I. That can be frustrating at times, but, on the other hand, how would you like it if other people could read your mind? I wouldn’t like it very much. There are plenty of things I’d rather keep to myself, plenty of thoughts I’d rather not have anybody else know about. Anyhow, the fact remains that we’re not mind readers. The only mind I can read is my own, and the only mind you can read is your own.

Now let’s take this to a higher level. If you can’t read my mind and I can’t read yours, could we possibly expect to read God’s mind? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:11, “Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” God can read our minds, but we can’t read God’s mind. Of ourselves, we have no way of knowing God’s thoughts. Only the Spirit of God knows what God is thinking.

Isn’t that a problem? Not knowing what’s on someone else’s mind can mean problems for human relationships, and it can mean even bigger problems in relation to God. If we can’t read God’s mind, how can we know what God is thinking? How can we know what he’s like? How can we know what he wants, what he cares about, what his plans are, what he thinks of us. How does God relate to us, and how can we relate to him? If you’d like to be in tune with God, it can be discouraging to hear that the only one who knows the mind of God is the Spirit of God.

But here’s the good news: God doesn’t keep his Spirit to himself. The Spirit of God also lives in every person who belongs to Jesus. The Spirit who reads God’s mind lives in God’s people and enables them to read God’s mind. The Holy Spirit knows God’s thoughts and plans, and the Spirit communicates God’s mind. If you don’t have God’s Holy Spirit in you, you can’t understand or accept God’s way of thinking, because “no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” But if the Holy Spirit does live in you, the Bible says that you “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). You can read God’s mind and think the thoughts of the Lord Jesus Christ.

You can’t read God’s mind on your own, because nobody knows God’s mind except the Spirit of God. But if you have God’s Holy Spirit living in you, you can read God’s mind and know his thoughts. You can’t know all his thoughts, of course. No human mind can grasp all that is in the infinite mind of God. But you can know God’s main thoughts in relation to you.

How People Communicate

As we focus on reading God’s mind, it’s helpful to reflect on what it takes to know the minds of other people. You and I can’t read each other’s minds, but there’s a way to know at least something of another person’s thoughts and feelings, and that is through the process of communication. Communication requires at least three things.

The first is this: To know someone else’s inner thoughts, we need them to express themselves. If they never say a word, if the look on their face never changes, if they never do anything at all, then we have no way of knowing what they’re thinking. To know the thoughts of others, the first thing we need is for them to express themselves.

But we need more than that. The second thing we need is for them to express themselves truthfully. People can say and do all sorts of things that don’t express what they are really thinking. A politician can promise something, but in his mind he may have no intent of doing what he says. A friend can say, “I really like your hair” and secretly be thinking that it looks like a haystack in a hurricane. A spouse can say, “Sure, honey, I’ll go out and run those errands” and secretly be thinking, “Why do I always have to do everything around here?” A worker can smile and say, “Sure, boss, no problem. I don’t mind working weekends,” and secretly be thinking, “I hate this job. But until I can find a better one, I’d better act nice and keep my lousy boss happy so he won’t fire me.” For us to know what is in a person’s mind, we need his words and actions to be honest expressions of what he’s really thinking.

If people express themselves and if they do it truthfully, we still need at least one more thing in order to know their thoughts. We need to be in tune with the other person’s way of communicating. A person may talk to me about herself for an hour straight, and every word she says may be truthful, but if she is speaking Russian or Swahili, I won’t know what’s on her mind. A brilliant scholar may tell me his deepest thoughts on a profound subject, but if I don’t understand his big words and his high-level reasoning, I can’t grasp what’s going through his mind. I have to be able to think the way that person thinks. If I can’t, the person will either have to help me expand my vocabulary or else put things in a simpler way that I can grasp.

Communication is so important. Too many of us expect others to read our minds, but that’s not going to happen. If we want to understand each other, we’ve got to express ourselves more openly, tell the truth more honestly, and find ways to talk each other’s language.

How God Communicates

These three parts of communication are basic not only in person-to-person communication among humans but also in God’s communication with us. We need God to express himself, we need him to do it truthfully, and we need it in our language.

We need God to express himself before we can know him, just as we need other people to express themselves before we can know them. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” We can’t know a thing about God unless God shows us. We can try to guess what God is like and try to figure out what he might be thinking, but our relationship to God is too important to be based on guesswork and figuring. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and our guesswork might do more harm than good. We can’t get into God’s mind using only our own minds and our own efforts. We need God to reveal himself.

And God has done so. He has revealed himself in actions and in words. God’s action in creation gives us some indication of who God is, but the actions which reveal him even more clearly occur in the history of his chosen people, the Israelites, and in the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s supreme action, his highest self-revelation, is Jesus Christ and him crucified. These actions show us a great deal about God, and along with God’s actions, he gives us words to tell us about those actions and to explain them to us, and he gives us words to tell us who he is and what his thoughts are in relation to us. Those words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are written in the Bible, and proclaimed in the Christian church.

So God has indeed expressed himself, and that brings us to the second part of communication: truthfulness. Here, again, God is the perfect communicator. God always speaks the truth; God always declares what is right (Isaiah 45:19). “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). When God expresses himself, he does not deceive or mislead. God in the flesh—that is, Jesus--and God’s Word written in the Bible are totally truthful expressions of God. Jesus is “the exact representation of God’s being” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is a perfect picture of who God is and what he is like (John 14:9). Likewise, the Bible is a perfect written record of God’s thoughts toward us. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16)—or to put it even more literally, “God-Spirited.” The Bible is a completely accurate message from the Spirit of God, the divine Mind Reader.

Clearly, God has fulfilled the first two parts of communication. He has expressed himself, and he has done so with perfect truthfulness. But what about the third aspect of communication? Does God talk our language and come to us at our level? Or does God express himself only in ways that are beyond us humans? Well, just look at God’s actions in Jesus and his words in Scripture. The Lord has come down to our level. In Christ he became human, and in the Bible he uses human words to teach divine thoughts. God has come to us in human form and has recorded his message in human words, so we can’t complain that God doesn’t communicate on our level.

God has done all the things that would ordinarily be needed for person-to-person communication, but all of that is still not enough. We need God to do still more. We need his Spirit to move inside us and shape our thinking. We need the Spirit to help us read God’s mind, so that we think as he thinks, care about what he cares about, love what he loves, hate what he hates, and choose what he chooses. Unless the Spirit takes over, unless the great Mind Reader actually gives us a piece of God’s mind (so to speak) we can’t accept the things of God.

There is something about God’s wisdom that repels people who don’t know God. In a sense, the closer God comes to us, the more we resist him. The Bible says, “The sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). Some of us say we’d like to know God better, but what happens when God comes to us in human flesh and we see what he’s really like? We crucify him. Some of us say we’d like to be spiritual people, but the moment we read the spiritual truths of the Bible and run into something that doesn’t fit our ideas, what do we do? We decide the Bible must be wrong, and we come up with our own idea of what “spirituality” is all about.

Jesus is God’s supreme revelation. In Christ God unveiled thoughts and carried out plans that he had kept secret up to that point. In 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, the apostle Paul writes, “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” The crucifixion of Jesus shows how the mindset of this age is opposed to God’s mind, but the Lord uses that very event to show his love and mercy. In his secret wisdom, God provides forgiveness through the death of Jesus, and he brings new life and eternal glory through Jesus’ resurrection and the gift of his Spirit.

God comes to us in human form, communicating through human words, but his holiness is such a contrast to our sinfulness, and his wisdom is such a contrast to our ideas, that if all we had to go on were our own senses and our own brains, we would never be able to figure what God is up to. Who would ever dream that only way for anyone to be saved would be for a humble teacher to get nailed to a cross? As 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Who would ever think of God giving his love and all his vast wealth to those who love Jesus? As 1 Corinthians 29-10 puts it, “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’--but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” The rest of 1 Corinthians 2 then speaks in a striking way of how the Holy Spirit reads God’s mind and helps people to read God’s mind.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We [who trust in Christ crucified] have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit of God cannot accept the things that come from God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
There you have it. Only if you have the mind of Christ can you understand and accept what God has freely given in Christ. Only if you have the divine Mind Reader, the Holy Spirit of God, living in you and helping you get inside God’s mind, can you grasp spiritual truths and spiritual words from God.

On God’s Wavelength

I spent sixteen years as a radio broadcaster, speaking into a microphone. Somehow the studio equipment transformed my voice into radio waves that were beamed out from transmitters around the world. Those radio waves were present in many places, but not everybody in those places heard me. To hear what I was saying, it was not enough for the radio waves to be present. People needed something to receive those waves and turn them back into a voice. They needed a radio, and they needed it tuned to the right frequency. Otherwise, they could have radio signals from my broadcast all around them and not be able to hear a word I said.

Likewise, in order to understand God, you must be on his wavelength. The Lord sends out signals that are all around us, but we need the means to pick up those signals. Unless we have a radio set inside us and have it tuned to God’s frequency, we won’t receive the signals that God has communicated. God transmits spiritual truths in spiritual words, but you won’t hear what he is saying unless you have a spiritual mind—the mind of Christ—as the Holy Spirit reads God’s mind and helps you to read God’s mind with him. Now, there are limits in every comparison, and there are drawbacks in comparing someone spiritual to something mechanical. The Holy Spirit is not a power or a radio frequency; he’s a Person, the third Person of Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But the point is that we need to be in tune with God, and that can only happen if God the Holy Spirit is inside us, reading God’s mind and giving us the mind of Christ.

When you hear that you’re a sinner whose only hope is to trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection and to be united to him through the Holy Spirit, you might think, “That sounds silly.” But don’t be too quick to say something is silly just because it sounds that way to you. When a student is studying a hard subject, he may get frustrated and say, “This is stupid.” But is that the problem? Is the material too stupid for him? No, it’s too smart for him. It’s not beneath his intelligence; it’s beyond his intelligence. Likewise, if salvation and eternal life in Christ sound foolish, it’s not because the gospel is too silly for you. It’s too wise for you. As the Bible says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” If you say God’s wisdom is foolish, it says more about you than it says about God.

But, thank God, there’s another possibility. The wonders of God and salvation through Christ crucified don’t make sense to an unspiritual person, but the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit can literally change your mind.

A friend told me that for years, he thought Christianity was foolish. In his opinion, the Bible made no sense and had no practical value. He had no interest in Jesus. But then something clicked inside. For some reason that he couldn’t understand at the time, he got interested in Jesus. The Bible gripped his attention, stirred his feelings, made him think hard, and had a practical impact on his life. Christian teaching began to make sense. What had once seemed foolish and useless became the center of his life. At first my friend didn’t understand all that was happening, but after he put his faith in Jesus and learned more about how the Holy Spirit works, he came to understand that God’s Holy Spirit had moved in, had put him on God’s wavelength, and had given him the mind of Christ.

What about you? Can you read God’s mind? Is the Holy Spirit living in you and linking you to Jesus Christ and to God the Father? The Bible says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5). What is it that the Spirit desires? To honor Jesus Christ, to make him known to us, and to shape us to be like him, and to pour God’s love into our hearts.

Jesus is the focus whenever the Spirit is at work. The Holy Spirit constantly reminds people of who Jesus is, of what Jesus did and continues to do, of what Jesus teaches, and of God’s amazing love in Jesus. The Spirit creates faith in Jesus; he moves people to adore Jesus; he transforms people to live like Jesus; he guides us with a sense of what Jesus wants us to do in a particular situation. The Spirit’s entire work is to connect us with Jesus. As Jesus put it, “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” The Holy Spirit gives us Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus.

The more we know Jesus and have the mind of Christ, the more we love the Father of Jesus Christ as our own Father. Jesus’ main goal is to honor God the Father, so any time we’re in tune with Jesus, the Spirit is moving us to call God our Father and to rejoice that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16). God is love, so if you can read God’s mind, you know God loves you. God is light, so if you can read God’s mind, you have the light of his truth to guide you. God is holy, so if you can read God’s mind, you desire holiness. God rules the universe, so if you can read God’s mind, you sense his hand in the forces of nature and the great events of history. God knows every bird and flower and every hair on your head, so if you can read God’s mind, you sense him guiding you in every part of your life, no matter how small, and directing your day-to-day decisions.

“No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God”—and those whom the Spirit connects with Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit enable you to read God’s mind.


Father in heaven, you promise to give your Holy Spirit to those who ask you. We claim that promise, Father. Fill us with your Spirit. Give us the mind of Christ. Wash away our sins by his blood. Give us life through his resurrection. Guide our steps by your Word, the Bible, and by your inner promptings. Remove anything that harms our relationship to you. By your Spirit help us to read your beautiful mind, to know your wisdom, your goodness, and your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

NIV Devotions for Couples - Building Our Relationship

by Marian V. Liautaud

Read 1 Chronicles 22:2–19

Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. 1 Chronicles 22:13

“Marriage is a most remarkable and courageous human act,” says Ernest Boyer in A Way in the World (HarperSanFrancisco, 1984). “It’s the promise of two human beings to share life together on all levels, physical, economic, and spiritual. It’s a promise made despite the certainty of death, the certainty of change, and the uncertainty of everything else. There is nothing else we might choose to do that is quite like this act, nothing so foolish or so profound.”

Why do so many of us enter into this “foolish and profound” commitment when we realize that it is such a difficult thing to unify two separate individuals? Why do we assume we will have success when we know that others fail?

Before his death, David shared his vision for building a temple for the Lord with his son Solomon, to whom God had entrusted this sacred task. David had spent countless hours collecting and preparing all of the materials his son would need to build a house worthy of the Lord. Then David told Solomon that if he was careful to observe the laws of the Lord, he would have success.

Likewise we, too, need to take great care in preparing for the construction of a marriage. Marriage is like a temple—a magnificent living, breathing house for the Lord. When we stand at the altar exchanging wedding vows, we’re essentially agreeing to erect a temple in which to honor God. By following God’s plan for marriage—loving, honoring, and remaining faithful to each other—we will have success in honoring him. When we’re strong and courageous, we’ll be able to overcome obstacles and persevere.

Sounds easy. But it’s not.

When Dan and I were preparing to get married, we spent an entire year budgeting, envisioning, and getting quotes on bands, caterers, cakes and invitations—planning all of the elements that go into making a wedding day a success. Soon after we walked down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs., we realized we would need to apply that same kind of care to building our relationship for a lifetime, not just planning for a day.

Marriages often include struggles. Changes in career aspirations, guilty feelings over past mistakes, conflicts in other relationships—these and a myriad of other situations present many opportunities to be either the afflicted or the comforter within marriage. In these periods the one doing the supporting may begin to think, “I am not being helped by this person, only held back.” But because of that foolish, extraordinary vow of marriage, he or she keeps going.

Through the ordinary pains and sharing of day-to-day life, marital love matures into a love that models God’s own love for us. It is in this temple we call marriage that God profoundly manifests himself, giving us the tools we need to be successful as husband and wife.

Let’s Talk
  • How has our love for each other and for God deepened as a result of persevering through struggles in our marriage?
  • Which one of us needs the most help now, and how can the other provide that help?
  • What can we do today to build a strong marriage relationship?

An Encouraging Word - Facing Your Giants

from Max Lucado

You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. (1 Sam 17:45-46 NIV)

David sees what others don't and refuses to see what others do. All eyes, except David's, fall on the brutal, hate-breathing hulk. All compasses, sans David's, are set on the polestar of the Philistine. All journals, but David's, describe day after day in the land of the Neanderthal. The people know his taunts, demands, size, and strut. They have majored in Goliath.

David sees the armies of God. And because he does, David hurries and runs toward the army to meet the Philistine (17:48).

You might say that David knew how to get a head of his giant.

When was the last time you did the same? How long since you ran toward your challenge? We tend to retreat, duck behind a desk of work or crawl into a nightclub of distraction or a bed of forbidden love. For a moment, a day, or a year, we feel safe, insulated, anesthetized, but then the work runs out, the liquor wears off, or the lover leaves, and we hear Goliath again. Booming. Bombastic.

Try a different tack. Rush your giant with a God-saturated soul. Giant of divorce, you aren't entering my home! Giant of depression? It may take a lifetime, but you won't conquer me. Giant of alcohol, bigotry, child abuse, insecurity ... you're going down. How long since you loaded your sling and took a swing at your giant?

Too long, you say? Then David is your model. God called him "a man after my own heart" (Acts 13:22 NIV). He gave the appellation to no one else. Not Abraham or Moses or Joseph. He called Paul an apostle, John his beloved, but neither was tagged a man after God's own heart.

One might read David's story and wonder what God saw in him. The fellow fell as often as he stood, stumbled as often as he conquered. He stared down Goliath, yet ogled at Bathsheba; defied God-mockers in the valley, yet joined them in the wilderness. An Eagle Scout one day. Chumming with the Mafia the next. He could lead armies but couldn't manage a family. Raging David. Weeping David. Bloodthirsty. God-hungry. Eight wives. One God.

A man after God's own heart? That God saw him as such gives hope to us all. David's life has little to offer the unstained saint. Straight-A souls find David's story disappointing. The rest of us find it reassuring. We ride the same roller coaster. We alternate between swan dives and belly flops, souffles and burnt toast.

Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn't, David did.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - GOD IS AT WORK IN HIS CHURCH

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22

Daniel, a young “underground” house church believer from Muslim background (MBB) would not attend the open church in his Middle Eastern city because he felt its leaders were cooperating with the government. Everything had to be secretive in the house church meetings with no loud singing. It was risky meeting like this. Daniel shares his story of discovery and what he learned from the experience:

“A few months ago, I was at the church leader’s house. They were old family friends and I was helping their kids to repair their computer. The mother answered the door and men came into the house. They were plainclothes police with papers that showed they were from security and had authority to arrest. They took everyone’s phones, disconnected the internet, and gathered all of the computers while they searched the house for Bibles. They found 300. They didn’t want to touch the Bibles, like they were dirty. They took the husband and wife away in handcuffs.

“The leaders were still imprisoned when the police came to my house about a month and a half later pretending to be postmen. In my whole life, that was the first time I saw my father cry. They searched through my room and took my computer, my books, my prayer notebook, my written plans for our youth group, and my personal Bible. They also took my sister’s laptop and all of our cell phones. At the end of their search, they told my parents that they were going to take me with them. My mother was distressed, but I hugged her and told her I would be back.

“They took me to the central prison. I was there for two weeks. They only beat me the first day, but they still threatened me. For the first week I didn’t answer their questions, but the second week was difficult. I was imagining my mom and dad—I had talked to my dad and knew it was a more difficult time for them than for me. I still wondered what I had done wrong and why I didn’t have the right to praise my Lord.

“After two weeks they let me go after guaranteeing I wouldn’t flee. About a month later they also released our leaders on bail. After that, they told me my case was still open and they could call me in at any time. We were uncertain of our sentence because they wouldn’t hold a trial for around six months. Constant pressure. It was a pleasure to be persecuted for my Lord.”

Asked what he learned from the experience, Daniel replied, “First, God taught me patience. Eventually, even though I was worried about my family, God gave me a chance to witness to my persecutors. I really don’t hate them. I love them because they don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve been taught bad things, they’re not bad themselves. I felt a responsibility to tell them about the light of Jesus that can break through their spiritual darkness…I want western people to know that God is working in the Middle East, through persecution, deception, and difficulties.”

RESPONSE: Today I will be thankful that God can work through my fellowship of believers regardless of the level of freedom we enjoy.

PRAYER: Pray for those in underground house churches who risk everything to meet and fulfill the five functions of the church.

Un Dia a la Vez - Cuando me siento caer al abismo

Todos los días del afligido son difíciles; mas el de corazón contento tiene un banquete continuo. Proverbios 15:15, RV-60

En cada uno de nosotros hay diversos estados de ánimo, así que en momentos críticos de nuestra vida se van a manifestar de manera diferente. No todos somos propensos a tener las mismas actitudes ante las experiencias que nos toca vivir.

He escuchado que la depresión es muy dura de soportar y, aunque es un mal tan común hoy en día, lo ideal es aprender a combatirla. A pesar de eso, he comprobado que todo, absolutamente todo, en la vida es pasajero. No hay nada que dure para siempre.

Cuando sabemos y creemos que tenemos un Dios, no podemos pensar que las pruebas no tienen solución. Sería como limitarlo para cambiar las circunstancias. Sería como decirle: «Mi problema es mayor que tu poder y definitivamente me quedo así. No puedo hacer otra cosa».

¿Te imaginas como se sentirá Él?

Mi invitación para ti este día es para que salgas de ese estado con la ayuda de Dios. Si crees y confías en Él, debes dar ese paso de fe. ¡Créele a Dios!

Verse of the Day - December 17, 2016

Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV) But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Read all of Matthew 1

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, December 17, 2016

First Reading
from the Old Testament

On that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on the one who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in all the earth. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: O my people, who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they beat you with a rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. For in a very little while my indignation will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. The LORD of hosts will wield a whip against them, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb; his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. On that day his burden will be removed from your shoulder, and his yoke will be destroyed from your neck. He has gone up from Rimmon, (Isaiah 10:20-27, NRSV)

Second Reading
from the Epistles

But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; for they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts." It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies. Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Revelation (Jude 1:17-25, NRSV)

The Holy Gospel
according to St Luke, the 3rd Chapter

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Luke 3:1-9, NRSV)

Morning Psalms

Psalm 55 Exaudi, Deus
1   Hear my prayer, O God; do not hide yourself from my petition.
2   Listen to me and answer me; I have no peace, because of my cares.
3   I am shaken by the noise of the enemy and by the pressure of the wicked;
4   For they have cast an evil spell upon me and are set against me in fury.
5   My heart quakes within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
6   Fear and trembling have come over me, and horror overwhelms me.
7   And I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
8   I would flee to a far-off place and make my lodging in the wilderness.
9   I would hasten to escape from the stormy wind and tempest."
10   Swallow them up, O Lord; confound their speech; for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
11   Day and night the watchmen make their rounds upon her walls, but trouble and misery are in the midst of her.
12   There is corruption at her heart; her streets are never free of oppression and deceit.
13   For had it been an adversary who taunted me, then I could have borne it; or had it been an enemy who vaunted himself against me, then I could have hidden from him.
14   But it was you, a man after my own heart, my companion, my own familiar friend.
15   We took sweet counsel together, and walked with the throng in the house of God.
16   Let death come upon them suddenly; let them go down alive to the grave; for wickedness is in their dwellings, in their very midst.
17   But I will call upon God, and the LORD will deliver me.
18   In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
19   He will bring me safely back from the battle waged against me; for there are many who fight me.
20   God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me and bring them down; they never change; they do not fear God.
21   My companion stretched forth his hand against his comrade; he has broken his covenant.
22   His speech is softer than butter, but war is in his heart.
23   His words are smoother than oil, but they are drawn swords.
24   Cast your burden upon the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous stumble.
25   For you will bring the bloodthirsty and deceitful down to the pit of destruction, O God.
26   They shall not live out half their days, but I will put my trust in you.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 138 Confitebor tibi
1   I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing your praise.
2   I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your Name, because of your love and faithfulness;
3   For you have glorified your Name and your word above all things.
4   When I called, you answered me; you increased my strength within me.
5   All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD, when they have heard the words of your mouth.
6   They will sing of the ways of the LORD, that great is the glory of the LORD.
7   Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly; he perceives the haughty from afar.
8   Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe; you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
9   The LORD will make good his purpose for me; O LORD, your love endures for ever; do not abandon the works of your hands.

Psalm 139 Domine, probasti
1   LORD, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
2   You trace my journeys and my resting-places and are acquainted with all my ways.
3   Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
4   You press upon me behind and before and lay your hand upon me.
5   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
6   Where can I go then from your Spirit? where can I flee from your presence?
7   If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8   If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9   Even there your hand will lead me and your right hand hold me fast.
10   If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night, "
11   Darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.
12   For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
13   I will thank you because I am marvelously made; your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
14   My body was not hidden from you, while I was being made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth.
15   Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb; all of them were written in your book; they were fashioned day by day, when as yet there was none of them.
16   How deep I find your thoughts, O God! how great is the sum of them!
17   If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.
18   Oh, that you would slay the wicked, O God! You that thirst for blood, depart from me.
19   They speak despitefully against you; your enemies take your Name in vain.
20   Do I not hate those, O LORD, who hate you? and do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
21   I hate them with a perfect hatred; they have become my own enemies.
22   Search me out, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my restless thoughts.
23   Look well whether there be any wickedness in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

LHM Daily Devotion - "Something New"

And he (Zechariah) asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." ... (Luke 1:63a, ESV).

Read Luke 1:57-63.

When I was a child presents didn't show up under our tree until Christmas morning. When my wife was a child they were there Christmas Eve after church. We knew when our first child came along that one of us would be starting a new tradition.

Something new was about to happen in Zechariah's family. The time finally came and Elizabeth gave birth to a son. Eight days later it was time to circumcise and name him. Zechariah's neighbors and family wanted to name him after his father, but Elizabeth refused. Clinging to the words of the angel to Zechariah, she said his name was to be John.

This puzzled the friends and relatives. It was traditional to name sons after their father or another family member. But Elizabeth stood firm. Her child's name would transcend family relations. He was not just a gift to his family, but to the whole world.

When the neighbors turned to Zechariah, they began asking him what name he wanted to give the child. Zechariah immediately got his writing tablet and confidently wrote, "His name is John."

What a difference from nine months ago. Then he was filled with doubt, skepticism and hopelessness. The time John was growing in Elizabeth's womb, and those three months with Mary and her special Child were more than enough to renew Zechariah's flagging faith. Now with great confidence and boldness, Zechariah gives his son the name the angel had said.

Jesus makes that transformation in our lives too. By the salvation won by His life, death and resurrection, He drives away our doubts, fears and cynicism, and fills us with courage, joy and faith.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for bearing with our doubts and fears. For Jesus' sake, fill us with confidence, hope and faith that we may trust You and serve one another. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).

Devociones de Adviento - El que cree, permanece

Isaías 7:1-9

Si ustedes no creen esto, tampoco permanecerán. (Is 7:9b, RVC)

El rey Acaz de Judá estaba atravesando un momento de gran peligro y amenaza: sus vecinos, los sirios y los israelitas del reino del norte, estaban planeando invadir Judá, repartírsela y poner un rey títere que respondiera a sus intereses. Acaz, si bien se ocupaba de fortificar las defensas de la ciudad, temblaba de miedo. El temor se contagiaba a todo el pueblo. La amenaza parecía justificar tanta inquietud. ¿Qué hacer? ¿Resistir? ¿Rendirse? ¿Aliarse con otro más fuerte que pueda defenderlos?

Mientras Acaz se debatía entre alguna de estas opciones, fue a visitarlo el profeta Isaías. El emisario divino lo exhorta a tener calma, a no temblar ante esos enemigos descritos irónicamente como tizones humeantes. Dios estaba al control de la situación. Las promesas de Dios respecto de la dinastía de David estaban vigentes e intactas. La mejor opción era confiar en la palabra que Dios había empeñado en el pasado. Ahora debería escuchar, arrepentirse y confiar: esa era su única opción. Pero no. El rey estaba empecinado en defenderse con otras armas, a su manera. Ese orgullo llevaría a su pueblo a la ruina.

¡Cuántas veces tememos igual que Acaz, y nos olvidamos de las consoladoras promesas de Dios! En este tiempo de Adviento se nos invita a confiar en las promesas ligadas al heredero de David: Jesús. Como parte de su reino, con una fe que no falla, las mismas fuerzas del infierno son incapaces de dañarnos. Contando con su perdón y su gracia, el diablo y sus demonios no podrán quitarnos ni la paz ni el gozo duraderos. Dudar es temer y temblar. Confiar es permanecer. Confiemos, pues, en el hijo de David.

Padre: dame tu Espíritu Santo para que no dude de tus promesas de gracia. Que permanezca en ellas siempre. Que permanezca en ti. Por Jesús. Amén.

© Copyright 2016 Cristo Para Todas Las NacionesUse these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).

Our Daily Bread - Our Covering

Read: Romans 3:21–26 | Bible in a Year: Amos 7–9; Revelation 8

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1

When talking about faith in Jesus, we sometimes use words without understanding or explaining them. One of those words is righteous. We say that God has righteousness and that He makes people righteous, but this can be a tough concept to grasp.

The way the word righteousness is pictured in the Chinese language is helpful. It is a combination of two characters. The top word is lamb. The bottom word is me. The lamb covers or is above the person.

When Jesus came to this world, John the Baptist called Him “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). We need our sin taken care of because it separates us from God whose character and ways are always perfect and right. Because His love for us is great, God made His Son Jesus “who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus, the Lamb, sacrificed Himself and shed His blood. He became our “cover.” He makes us righteous, which places us in right relationship with God.

Being right with God is a gift from Him. Jesus, the Lamb, is God’s way to cover us.

Dear Lord, thank You for dying on the cross for me and covering my sins so that I can have a relationship with You.

Share this prayer from our Facebook page:

The only permanent covering for sin is the blood of Christ.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Nuestro Pan Diario - Nuestra cobertura

Leer: Romanos 3:21-26 | La Biblia en un año: Apocalipsis 8

Bienaventurado aquel cuya transgresión ha sido perdonada, y cubierto su pecado (Salmo 32:1).

Cuando hablamos de nuestra fe en Jesús, a veces, usamos palabras que no entendemos ni explicamos. Una de ellas es justo. Decimos que Dios administra justicia y que hace justas a las personas, pero este puede ser un concepto difícil de comprender.

La forma en que el idioma chino representa la palabra justicia es útil. Combina dos caracteres: la palabra de arriba es cordero; y la de abajo es yo. El cordero cubre o está encima de la persona.

Cuando Jesús vino a este mundo, Juan el Bautista lo llamo «el Cordero de Dios, que quita el pecado del mundo» (Juan 1:29). Necesitamos que se solucione el problema de nuestro pecado porque nos separa de Dios, cuya esencia y caminos son siempre perfectos y rectos. Debido a su gran amor por nosotros, a su Hijo Jesús «que no conoció pecado, por nosotros lo hizo pecado, para que nosotros fuésemos hechos justicia de Dios en él» (2 Corintios 5:21). Jesús, el Cordero, se sacrificó y derramó su sangre, y se convirtió en nuestra «cobertura». Él nos hace justos, lo cual nos coloca en una relación correcta con Dios.

Estar bien con Dios es un regalo de su parte. Jesús, el Cordero, es la forma en que Dios nos cubre.

Señor, gracias por morir en la cruz por mí para cubrir y quitar mis pecados, y pueda tener una relación contigo.

La única cobertura permanente para el pecado es la sangre de Cristo.

© 2016 Ministerios Nuestro Pan Diario

Unser Täglich Brot - Zugedeckt

Lesen: Römer 3,21-26 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: Amos 7–9; Offenbarung 8

Wohl dem, dem die Übertretungen vergeben sind, dem die Sünde bedeckt ist! (Psalm 32,1)

Wenn wir über den Glauben an Jesus reden, gebrauchen wir manchmal Worte, ohne sie richtig zu verstehen oder zu erklären. Eines ist das Wort gerecht. Wir sagen, Gott sei Gerechtigkeit und mache Menschen gerecht, aber was das wirklich bedeutet, ist nicht leicht zu verstehen.

Die Art, wie das Wort Gerechtigkeit auf Chinesisch geschrieben wird, kann uns vielleicht helfen. Es besteht aus einer Kombination von zwei Zeichen. Das obere Zeichen bedeutet Lamm und das untere ich. Das Lamm bedeckt den Menschen oder ist über ihm.

Als Jesus in die Welt kam, nannte Johannes der Täufer ihn „Gottes Lamm, das der Welt Sünde trägt“ (Joh. 1,29). Unsere Sünde muss ausgeräumt werden, weil sie uns von Gott trennt, dessen Wesen und Wege immer richtig und vollkommen sind. Weil seine Liebe zu uns so groß ist, hat er seinen Sohn, „der von keiner Sünde wusste, für uns zur Sünde gemacht, damit wir in ihm die Gerechtigkeit würden, die vor Gott gilt“ (2.Kor. 5,21). Jesus, das Lamm, opferte sich selbst und vergoss sein Blut. Er wurde unsere „Decke“. Er macht uns gerecht, sodass wir vor Gott stehen können.

In der richtigen Beziehung zu Gott zu stehen, ist ein Geschenk von ihm. Jesus, das Lamm, bedeckt unsere Sünde.

Lieber Herr, hab Dank, dass du am Kreuz für mich gestorben bist und meine Sünde zudeckst, damit ich in Beziehung zu dir kommen kann. Teile dieses Gebet von unserem

Das Einzige, was die Sünde auf Dauer zudeckt, ist das Blut Jesu.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Покрытие

автор: Анн Ситас

Читать сейчас: Римлянам 3:21-26 | Библия за год: Амос 7-9; Откровение 8

Блажен, кому отпущены беззакония и чьи грехи покрыты! — Псалом 31:1

Разговаривая о вере во Христа, мы порой употребляем слова, требующие дополнительного разъяснения. Одно из них – праведность. Мы говорим, что Бог праведен и что Он оправдывает людей. Но уловить смысл этого явления не всегда просто.

Здесь, как ни странно, может помочь знание китайской письменности. Иероглиф «праведность» состоит из двух других, расположенных один над другим. Верхний иероглиф означает «ягненок», нижний – «я». Ягненок накрывает человека, находится над ним.

Когда Иисус пришел в мир, Иоанн Креститель сказал о Нем: «Вот Агнец Божий, Который берет на Себя грех мира» (Ин. 1:29). Перед нами остро стоит проблема греха, поскольку он разделяет нас с Богом, Чей характер и дела всегда совершенны и праведны. По Своей великой любви Бог сделал Иисуса Христа «жертвой за грех, чтобы мы в Нем сделались праведными пред Богом» (2 Кор. 5:21). Спаситель принес Себя в жертву и пролил кровь. Он стал нашим «покровом». Он делает нас праведными и через это примиряет с Богом.

Праведность – Божий дар. Она дается нам в Иисусе Христе и покрывает все несовершенства.

Дорогой Господь, благодарю Тебя за смерть на кресте ради моего спасения и покрытия моих грехов. Благодарю, что теперь я имею общение с Тобой.
Единственное возможное покрытие греха – кровь Христа.

Notre Pain Quotidien - Couvert par le sang

Lisez : Romains 3.21‑26 | La Bible en un an : Amos 7 – 9 et Apocalypse 8

Heureux celui à qui la transgression est remise, à qui le péché est pardonné ! (Psaume 32.1)

Pour parler de la foi en Jésus, nous utilisons parfois des mots que nous ne comprenons pas ou n’expliquons pas. L’un d’eux est le mot juste. Nous disons que Dieu possède la justice et qu’il justifie les gens, mais il peut s’agir ici d’un concept difficile à saisir.

En langue chinoise, on rend le mot justice de manière très pratique. Il s’agit de la combinaison de deux sinogrammes. Celui du dessus désigne un agneau, alors que celui du bas signifie moi. L’agneau couvre donc la personne ou se trouve au‑dessus d’elle.

Lorsque Jésus est venu dans le monde, Jean‑Baptiste l’a présenté ainsi : « l’Agneau de Dieu, qui ôte le péché du monde » (JN 1.29). Il faut que nos péchés soient éliminés parce qu’ils nous séparent de Dieu, dont la personne et les voies sont toujours parfaites et justes. Comme son amour pour nous est merveilleux, Dieu a fait en sorte que son Fils Jésus, « qui n’a point connu le péché, il l’a fait devenir péché pour nous, afin que nous devenions en lui justice de Dieu » (2 CO 5.21). Jésus, l’Agneau, s’est sacrifié et a répandu son sang. Il nous en a couverts, nous protégeant ainsi du péché. Il nous justifie, nous faisant entrer dans une relation juste avec Dieu.

Être en règle avec Dieu est un don de sa part. Jésus, l’Agneau, est la protection dont Dieu nous couvre.

Le sang de Christ est seul à pouvoir couvrir le péché pour de bon.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ