Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Resources

Let us pray (in silence) [that through celebrating the Incarnation we will deepen our relationship with Christ]


year by year you make us glad with the hope of our redemption, grant that we who joyfully receive your only begotten Son as our Redeemer may with sure confidence behold him when he comes as our judge; who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,  one God now and for ever.

The Daily Readings for MONDAY, December 19, 2016

First Reading
Isaiah 11:1-9
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Second Reading
Revelation 20:1-10
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years. When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, in order to gather them for battle; they are as numerous as the sands of the sea. They marched up over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from heaven and consumed them. And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Holy Gospel
John 5:30-47
"I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me. "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But I have a testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent. "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

Morning Psalms

Psalm 61 Exaudi, Deus
1   Hear my cry, O God, and listen to my prayer.
2   I call upon you from the ends of the earth with heaviness in my heart; set me upon the rock that is higher than I.
3   For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
4   I will dwell in your house for ever; I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
5   For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have granted me the heritage of those who fear your Name.
6   Add length of days to the king's life; let his years extend over many generations.
7   Let him sit enthroned before God for ever; bid love and faithfulness watch over him.
8   So will I always sing the praise of your Name, and day by day I will fulfill my vows.

Psalm 62 Nonne Deo?
1   For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.
2   He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.
3   How long will you assail me to crush me, all of you together, as if you were a leaning fence, a toppling wall?
4   They seek only to bring me down from my place of honor; lies are their chief delight.
5   They bless with their lips, but in their hearts they curse.
6   For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him.
7   He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.
8   In God is my safety and my honor; God is my strong rock and my refuge.
9   Put your trust in him always, O people, pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.
10   Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath, even those of low estate cannot be trusted.
11   On the scales they are lighter than a breath, all of them together.
12   Put no trust in extortion; in robbery take no empty pride; though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.
13   God has spoken once, twice have I heard it, that power belongs to God.
14   Steadfast love is yours, O Lord, for you repay everyone according to his deeds.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 112 Beatus vir
1   Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments!
2   Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3   Wealth and riches will be in their house, and their righteousness will last for ever.
4   Light shines in the darkness for the upright; the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.
5   It is good for them to be generous in lending and to manage their affairs with justice.
6   For they will never be shaken; the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.
7   They will not be afraid of any evil rumors; their heart is right; they put their trust in the Lord.
8   Their heart is established and will not shrink, until they see their desire upon their enemies.
9   They have given freely to the poor, and their righteousness stands fast for ever; they will hold up their head with honor.
10   The wicked will see it and be angry; they will gnash their teeth and pine away; the desires of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 115 Non nobis, Domine
1   Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your Name give glory; because of your love and because of your faithfulness.
2   Why should the heathen say, "Where then is their God?"
3   Our God is in heaven; whatever he wills to do he does.
4   Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
5   They have mouths, but they cannot speak; eyes have they, but they cannot see;
6   They have ears but they cannot hear; noses, but they cannot smell;
7   They have hands, but they cannot feel; feet, but they cannot walk; they make no sound with their throat.
8   Those who make them are like them, and so are all who put their trust in them.
9   O Israel, trust in the LORD; he is their help and their shield.
10   O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD; he is their help and their shield.
11   You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; he is their help and their shield.
12   The LORD has been mindful of us, and he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron;
13   He will bless those who fear the LORD, both small and great together.
14   May the LORD increase you more and more, you and your children after you.
15   May you be blessed by the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.
16   The heaven of heavens is the LORD'S, but he entrusted the earth to its peoples.
17   The dead do not praise the LORD, nor all those who go down into silence;
18   But we will bless the LORD, from this time forth for evermore. Hallelujah!

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.

Morning Devotions with Cap'n Kenny - "A Divine Birth Announcement"

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. . . . But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (Luke 2:8, 10, NIV)

If you are a parent, then you can remember the first people you called after you became one. You gave them the weight and length of the baby and the actual time when he or she was born. You shared the news with those who were closest to you.

When God announced the birth of His Son, whom did He tell first? It seems likely that He would have started with Caesar Augustus. He could have sent the angel Gabriel to appear in Caesar's court and announce, "Check this out, buddy. You are not God! The Savior of the world has arrived!"

Or He might have had Gabriel appear to the religious leaders and say, "Wake up! The Messiah has been born! The One you talk about, the One you pray for—He is here!"

But that didn't happen. Instead, God first announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds. We tend to romanticize the shepherds along with everyone else in the Christmas story, but we don't understand who they were. In this culture, shepherds lived at the bottom of the social ladder. Shepherds were so despised that their testimonies were not even allowed in a court of law. Shepherds did the work that no one else wanted to do. They worked hard, but they were perceived as unclean because they could not observe the ceremonial hand washings. They were the outcasts, the nobodies.

The only people less-regarded than shepherds were those who were suffering from leprosy. Yet God decided to announce His news to some shepherds in the fields as they kept watch over their flocks at night. This was the modus operandi of Jesus, from birth to death. He always appealed to the outcast, to the common, to the ordinary. And that should give hope to ordinary people like us.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

Standing Strong Through the Storm - BECOME A DISCIPLE

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Sixty-three-year-old Lena has established several secret churches in her Central Asia country. She now leads seven house fellowships which meet together in small groups. On several occasions she has had to cope with arrests. “One time police with guns entered the house where we were meeting with a group. We were taken off to the station. Of course we were afraid,” says Lena. The reason why Lena can talk so “nonchalantly” about her arrest follows quickly. She does not necessarily see it as a problem, but as an opportunity to testify.

“I experienced how God took away my fear and gave me peace. Even more, I had the chance to tell the gospel to the head of police. While we were locked up there, I simply started to talk. I was given the opportunity to tell him what God had done for me,” says Lena. “After some time, the man only said, ‘Take your group away.’”

While she is telling her story, there is not a trace of fear, anger or bitterness to be found on her face because of the injustice. When asked how this is possible, Lena only has one answer. In God’s Word, it says that for a long time there will be persecution, but that He will also grant a way out. She recalls Isaiah 41:10, which says, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. So Lena lives out her life in Uzbekistan, bearing in mind that God is watching over her everywhere.

She provides Bible teaching for Christians and has a heart for work with children and young people adding, “We have to do everything to help Christians to become mature believers.” For example, Lena and other Christians try to hold annual children’s camps where, for a few days, the children are introduced to the gospel through play. The enthusiasm of the children makes it clear that the camps are a success. But Lena and her staff encounter problems year after year. “It’s difficult to find a suitable location, where we can receive the children in safety. And things remain tense: the police may always come and disrupt the camp.”

Despite these difficulties, Lena does not give up. She sees the church growing and hammers home the missionary message of Matthew 28, in which Jesus calls on us to make disciples of all nations. This message is what Lena is living out, in the midst of persecution.

“We must understand that the church cannot grow without disciples,” emphasises Lena. “Become a disciple!”

RESPONSE: Today I will become a true disciple of Jesus using every situation—good or bad—to share my faith with everyone and encourage and train other younger believers.

PRAYER: Pray for Lena and others like her growing the Church of Jesus amid great persecution.

Women of the Bible - Priscilla

Her name means: "Worthy" or "Venerable"

Her character: One of the first missionaries and a leader of the early church, along with her husband, Aquila, she risked her life for the apostle Paul. Priscilla was a woman whose spiritual maturity and understanding of the faith helped build up the early church.
Her sorrow: To experience opposition to the gospel from both Jews and Gentiles.
Her joy: To spread the gospel and nurture the church.
Key Scriptures: Acts 18-19; Romans 16:3-4; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19

Her Story

How good it is to have Paul back again, she thought. Ephesus was on fire with the gospel, their young church growing stronger each day. Paul's preaching and miracles had brought many to faith. Even the touch of his handkerchief had healed illnesses and delivered people from evil spirits.

Priscilla couldn't help laughing when she heard the story of Sceva's seven sons, Jewish exorcists who had tried to duplicate such wonders by driving out an evil spirit with a magic invocation: "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."

But the spirit had merely mocked them, saying: "Jesus I know and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man they were trying to deliver beat them so soundly they ran bleeding and naked from the house.

The Ephesians were so impressed by what had happened that a number of sorcerers held a public bonfire to destroy their scrolls. Their magical formulations and incantations seemed like useless trinkets in light of the greater power of Jesus.

But despite the progress of the gospel, Priscilla was aware of growing opposition. One day, she heard the sounds of a crowd forming in the streets. A silversmith was shouting to other craftsmen, all of whom made their living selling miniature images of the many-breasted goddess Artemis: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."

The crowd erupted into a riot, seizing two of Paul's companions. Priscilla was distressed when Paul insisted on addressing the mob. She was certain such boldness could only end in worse violence. With her husband's help, she was able to restrain Paul until a city official calmed the crowd and it dispersed. Soon after, Paul set out to spread the gospel in Macedonia.

Though the book of Acts describes the riot in Ephesus, it does not tell us that either Priscilla or Aquila were actually present, only that some disciples prevented Paul from entering the fray, possibly saving his life in the process. Since Priscilla and her husband were leaders of the church in Ephesus, it is quite possible they were among those who intervened on Paul's behalf.

Priscilla's faith had been planted years earlier in an atmosphere of strife and controversy, first in Rome and later in Corinth. The latter was a commercial center famous for its appetite for vice, hardly a place to nurture the faith of a new believer. Yet that was where God transplanted her, along with her husband, Aquila, after Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome in ad 49, tired of their constant fighting about Chrestus (a probable reference to Christ).

Though various gods were worshiped in Corinth, none was more popular than Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, whose temple at one time boasted more than a thousand sacred prostitutes. Throughout the empire, the phrase "Corinthian girl" was just another name for "prostitute."

After the couple had been in Corinth for about a year, they met up with a man who would involve them in yet more controversy. Paul of Tarsus was a Jew who had ruthlessly persecuted Jesus' followers until his own dramatic conversion. Lately, he had been traveling in Asia Minor and Macedonia, preaching the gospel wherever he went. When he arrived in Corinth, he probably met the couple through their common trade as tentmakers. Priscilla and Aquila invited Paul to stay in their home and work with them.

As always, Paul preached the gospel first in the local synagogue and then to the Gentiles. And, as always, his preaching generated both faith and opposition. After eighteen months, leading Jews of Corinth hauled him before the proconsul to accuse him of spreading an illicit religion. After the charge was dismissed, Paul set sail for Ephesus, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.

The three missionaries must have been eager to see a city that ranked in importance with Rome, Corinth, Antioch, and Alexandria. The capital of provincial Asia, Ephesus boasted a temple to Artemis (also known as Diana) so enormous that it was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. After only a short while, Paul left for other ports, leaving the couple behind to lead the church that met in their home.

Before long another Jew arrived, preaching eloquently about Jesus to the Jews at Ephesus. But Apollos, a native of Alexandria, had grasped only a shadow of the gospel, one more in keeping with the message of John the Baptist than of Jesus. Rather than denouncing him for his inadequate presentation, Priscilla and Aquila merely took him aside and instructed him in the faith. They did their job so well, in fact, that believers in Ephesus eventually sent the gifted preacher to Corinth, where he advanced the work Paul had begun.

Priscilla must have been a spiritually mature woman, whose gifts equipped her for leadership. Her name actually precedes Aquila's four out of the six times they are mentioned in the New Testament, probably signifying her greater abilities as a leader or the fact that her family may have hailed from a higher social strata than his. Whatever the case, Priscilla's role in instructing Apollos and leading the early church is remarkable.

Along with Aquila, she was the best friend Paul could have had, helping him establish the church and risking her life for his sake. Paul mentions the couple's courage in one of his letters but doesn't elaborate on the circumstances.

Rather than withering in the soil of controversy, Priscilla's faith seemed to flourish. She helped establish the early church in an atmosphere of great hostility, risking her own life for the sake of the gospel she loved.

Her Promise

Scripture doesn't tell us exactly what role Priscilla played in the circumstances described in the New Testament. Was she active as a teacher? Or did she work in the background? But the very fact that her name appears along with her husband's every time does tell us something: She was a valued disciple, one who made a difference in Paul's life and in her world.

Whatever your role as a woman in your church, whether in the background or in a leadership position, you can be sure that what you are doing matters. Each task—no matter how small or large—is important to the spread of the gospel. You are an integral part of your church community, and God promises to use you.

Girlfriends in God - One Thing God Wants You to Remember at Christmas

Today’s Truth

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV).

Friend to Friend

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s easy to get so busy with the cooking, decorating and shopping that we forget why we’re doing all this in the first place. Sometimes, the very people we love get lost in the hustle and bustle of packed schedules, holiday parties, and Christmas musicals.

Several years ago I wrote a Christmas version of 1 Corinthians 13 to help me keep my focus on what Paul deemed most important of all…love. As part of our family tradition, I pull it out and post it somewhere in our home as a reminder of what’s really important during the holiday season. And since you are now part of the family, I’m pulling it out for you.

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style
©By Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, on that starry night in Bethlehem. I am still amazed at Your great love for me. May I never lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas, but celebrate Jesus’ birth with joy! Help me to give as You gave—with love.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

What are some ways that you can make sure to love your family well this holiday season?

Are there any activities that you need to eliminate from your busy schedule in order to alleviate over commitment? If so, what are they?

More from the Girlfriends

It is hard not to get caught up in the pre-Christmas swirl of activity and lose focus on what’s really important. If you would like ways to keep Jesus the focus of your holiday season, check out my book, Celebrating a Christ-centered Christmas: Ideas from A-Z. It’s packed with helpful ideas and inspiration. And what could be better than giving the gift of prayer? For you married gals, check out Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe.

Un Dia a la Vez - Recompensa en el cielo

Dios, que es rico en misericordia, por su gran amor por nosotros, nos dio vida con Cristo [...] ¡Por gracia ustedes han sido salvados! Efesios 2:4-5

¿Por qué esperar hasta el cielo para recibir algo por lo que hicimos?

Dios ha dejado establecido que nosotros somos salvos por gracia, un regalo inmerecido, y no por obras, para que nadie se gloríe.

¿Quién mejor que Él para conocer nuestra naturaleza? Él nos creó y sabía que tenía que ser de esa manera. ¿Te imaginas de qué iba a depender nuestra salvación si no fuera por su gracia? Pues bien, iba a depender de lo que hiciéramos en la tierra. Me figuro que con esto seríamos unos orgullosos, malagradecidos e ingratos. Además, habría una lucha de poderes, pues tu éxito podría causar envidias en otros y te sería muy difícil encontrar personas que de verdad se gozaran en tus triunfos.

Con esto en mente, recordemos que a Dios nada de lo que hagamos en la tierra le sorprende, ya que lo único que le sorprende es nuestra obediencia.

Así que, a la hora de la verdad, lo que cuenta es su opinión, y Él determinó salvarnos por gracia y recompensarnos con la vida eterna por medio de nuestro Señor Jesucristo..

Verse of the Day - December 19, 2016

Luke 1:76-78 (NIV) And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

Read all of Luke 1

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

LHM Daily Devotion - "First Words"

(Zechariah said) "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people". (Luke 1:68, ESV)

Read Luke 1:67-70

As a child I had no problem going to church Christmas Eve, because I knew the presents wouldn't come before midnight. My problem came Christmas morning, after opening our presents and playing with them, then to have to go to church again. Obviously, at that time presents were the biggest part of Christmas to me.

Did Zechariah have that same problem? After all, he had been silent nine months, and finally got his speech back. If it was you, what is the first thing you would talk about? Wouldn't it be your child -- the one you had waited and prayed about for so long?

But Zechariah said nothing about his child; all he could talk about was that other Child, who stayed in his household the last three months -- the Baby still growing in Mary's womb. Zechariah shared his wife's amazement at how God has come to visit His people, and this visit is not the way an angel appears and then leaves. Instead, God remains, becoming one of us, ready to spend a lifetime living with us.

But there's even more to the story. Not only has the Christ Child come to live with us, He has come to redeem or ransom us -- to buy us back from our slavery to sin, death and hell. Zechariah spoke of the ransom payment that still lay more than 30 years in the future. It was then when Jesus would be nailed to a cross, on a hill outside of Jerusalem. It is there that He will give His life to free us from God's wrath and the eternal punishment of hell that we deserve.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Christmas is about far more than presents, decorations and parties. It is about Your Son coming into our world to buy us back with His own life, death and resurrection. Fill my mouth with praise to You. 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 - Esperando a Emanuel

Isaías 7:10-14

Pues ahora el Señor mismo les dará una señal: la [virgen] joven concebirá, y dará a luz un hijo, y le pondrá por nombre Emanuel. (Is 7:14, RVC)

En medio de la calamidad nacional, el profeta de Dios viene al rey Acaz con un mensaje de esperanza. Quiere que éste recuerde el pacto de gracia que Dios había hecho con su antepasado David. Le ofrece que pida una señal, para que tenga la certeza de que Dios estaba con él, que podía confiar en su poder y misericordia. Pero Acaz se rehúsa a confiar, y recurre a evasivas hipócritas para rechazar el don de Dios.

Acaz retrata lo que muchas veces hacemos con aquello que Dios nos ofrece. Dios nos quiere conducir a una relación de confianza, quiere ser nuestro Padre amoroso, para que depositemos en Él nuestras ansiedades. Pero no estamos dispuestos a escuchar sus ofertas. Preferimos seguir en nuestra incredulidad, depositando nuestra confianza en aquello que no puede salvar. Negar nuestro pecado, confiar en nuestros méritos, compararnos con otros, son nuestros métodos evasivos para rehuir de Dios cuando se nos aproxima.

Aquellos que rechacemos la señal de la virgen y el niño anunciada por Isaías, nos estaremos condenando sin remedio a una vida temporal y eterna lejos de Dios. Es a través de ese Niño que viene en camino, que Dios se hace nuestro Emanuel, nuestro Dios con nosotros. En Belén, Dios viene a estar tan cerca de nosotros que se hace uno de nosotros. Desciende de su gloria y se hace un bebé vulnerable. Su gloria eterna se reviste de carne y sangre. A pesar de ser el rey del universo, descansa en un pesebre. Navidad revela que Isaías decía la verdad. No hagamos como Acaz: confiemos y celebremos.

Divino Emanuel: gracias por venir a nosotros. Gracias por hacerte uno de nosotros. Gracias por dar la vida por nosotros. Que nuestra fe en ti nunca falle. Amén.

© Copyright 2016 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones

Our Daily Bread - Enemy Love

Read: Jonah 3:10–4:11 | Bible in a Year: Jonah 1–4; Revelation 10

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Luke 6:32

When war broke out in 1950, fifteen-year-old Kim Chin-Kyung joined the South Korean army to defend his homeland. He soon found, however, that he wasn’t ready for the horrors of combat. As young friends died around him, he begged God for his life and promised that, if allowed to live, he would learn to love his enemies.

Sixty-five years later, Dr. Kim reflected on that answered prayer. Through decades of caring for orphans and assisting in the education of North Korean and Chinese young people, he has won many friends among those he once regarded as enemies. Today he shuns political labels. Instead he calls himself a loveist as an expression of his faith in Jesus.

The prophet Jonah left a different kind of legacy. Even a dramatic rescue from the belly of a big fish didn’t transform his heart. Although he eventually obeyed God, Jonah said he’d rather die than watch the Lord show mercy to his enemies (Jonah 4:1–2, 8).

We can only guess as to whether Jonah ever learned to care for the people of Nineveh. Instead we are left to wonder about ourselves. Will we settle for his attitude toward those we fear and hate? Or will we ask God for the ability to love our enemies as He has shown mercy to us?

Father in heaven, like Your reluctant prophet, we are inclined to love only those who love us. Yet You loved us even when we cared only for ourselves. Please give us the grace to be more like Jesus than Jonah.

Love conquers all.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Nuestro Pan Diario - Amor al enemigo

Leer: Jonás 3:10–4:11 | La Biblia en un año: Apocalipsis 10

Porque si amáis a los que os aman, ¿qué mérito tenéis?… (Lucas 6:32).

En 1950, cuando empezó la guerra en Corea del Sur, Kim Chin-Kyung, de 15 años, se alistó en el ejército para defender su tierra natal. Sin embargo, no tardó en darse cuenta de que no estaba preparado para los horrores del combate. Mientras sus amigos morían a su alrededor, le rogó a Dios que lo protegiera y prometió que, si le permitía seguir con vida, aprendería a amar a sus enemigos.

Sesenta y cinco años después, el Dr. Kim reflexionaba sobre esa oración respondida. A lo largo de décadas de ocuparse de los huérfanos y colaborar en la educación de jóvenes chinos y norcoreanos, se hizo amigo de muchos que antes consideraba enemigos. Actualmente, rechaza las calificaciones políticas y se autodenomina un amador, como una manera de expresar su fe en Jesús.

El profeta Jonás dejó un legado diferente. Ni siquiera zafarse del vientre de un gran pez transformó su corazón, y aunque finalmente obedeció a Dios, dijo que prefería morir antes que ver que el Señor tuviera misericordia de sus enemigos (Jonás 4:1-2, 8).

¿Cuál es nuestra actitud? ¿Sentiremos lo mismo que Jonás por aquellos que odiamos o le pediremos a Dios que nos ayude a amar a nuestros enemigos como Él lo ha hecho con nosotros?

Señor, soy propenso a amar solamente a quienes me aman. Dame la gracia para amar como lo hacía Jesús.

El amor lo vence todo.

© 2016 Ministerios Nuestro Pan Diario

Unser Täglich Brot - Feindesliebe

Lesen: Jona 3,10–4,11 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: Jona 1–4; Offenbarung 10

Wenn ihr die liebt, die euch lieben, welchen Dank habt ihr davon? (Lukas 6,32)

Als 1950 der Krieg ausbrach, trat der fünfzehnjährige Kim Chin-Kyung in die südkoreanische Armee ein, um sein  Heimatland zu verteidigen. Doch schon bald merkte er, dass er für den Horror des Krieges nicht geschaffen war. Während um ihn herum die Freunde fielen, bat er Gott um sein Leben und versprach, dass er lernen wollte, seine Feinde zu lieben, falls er am Leben blieb.

Fünfundsechzig Jahre später berichtet er, wie sein Gebet erhört wurde. Jahrzehntelang kümmerte er sich um Waisen und unterrichtete Jugendliche aus Nordkorea und China und gewann dabei unter denen, die er einmal als seine Feinde betrachtet hat, viele Freunde. Von politischen Etikettierungen hält er nichts und bezeichnet sich als Ausdruck seines Glaubens an Jesus als „Liebenden“.

Beim Propheten Jona war das anders. Selbst die dramatische Rettung aus dem Bauch eines großen Fisches veränderte ihn nicht. Zwar gehorchte er Gott später. Trotzdem wollte er lieber sterben, als mit anzusehen, wie Gott seinen Feinden gnädig war (Jona 4,1-2.8).

Wir wissen nicht, ob Jona noch lernte, etwas für die Menschen von Ninive zu empfinden. Aber wir können uns selbst fragen, wie es denn bei uns aussieht. Verhalten wir uns gegenüber Menschen, die wir fürchten oder hassen, wie Jona? Oder bitten wir Gott um die Fähigkeit, unsere Feinde zu lieben, so wie er uns geliebt hat?

Himmlischer Vater, wie dein widerspenstiger Prophet neigen wir dazu, nur die zu lieben, die uns lieben. Du aber hast uns bereits geliebt, als wir uns nur um uns selbst gedreht haben. Bitte schenk uns Gnade, damit wir Jesus mehr ähnlicher werden als Jona.

Liebe überwindet alles.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Любовь к врагам

Читать сейчас: Иона 3:10–4:11 | Библия за год: Иона 1-4; Откровение 10

И если любите любящих вас, какая вам за то благодарность? — Луки 6:32

Когда в 1950 г. началась война в Корее, пятнадцатилетний Ким Чин-Кун присоединился к Южнокорейской армии, чтобы защищать свою родину. Вскоре, однако, он понял, что не готов к ужасам фронта. Во время боя, когда вокруг гибли его юные друзья, он воззвал к Богу, прося сохранить ему жизнь и обещая, что научится любить врагов.

На протяжении последующих шестидесяти пяти лет доктор Ким помнил свою молитву. Он посвятил жизнь заботе о сиротах из Северной Кореи и Китая. Таким образом, он обрел многих друзей среди тех, кого раньше считал врагами. Сегодня он избегает громких званий, а называет себя «сторонником любви», выражая этими словами свою веру в Иисуса Христа.

Пророк Иона оставил наследие другого рода. Даже чудесное спасение из чрева кита не изменило его сердце. Хотя Иона вынужденно повиновался Богу, в конце он заявил, что лучше бы умер, чем увидел Божью милость к врагу (Иона 4:1-2, 8).

Мы можем лишь догадываться, научился ли упрямый пророк любить жителей Ниневии. Однако нам нужно определиться. Будем ли мы проявлять такое же отношение к тем, кого боимся или недолюбливаем? Или, напротив, станем просить у Бога способности любить врагов так же, как Он возлюбил и помиловал нас?

Отче Небесный, подобно Твоему непослушному пророку, мы склонны любить только тех, кто любит нас. Но ты возлюбил нас тогда, когда мы заботились только о себе. Даруй нам благодать быть больше похожими на Христа, чем на Иону.

Любовь побеждает все.

© 2016 Хлеб Наш Насущный

Notre Pain Quotidien - L’amour de l’ennemi

Lisez : Jonas 3.10 – 4.11 | La Bible en un an : Jonas 1 – 4 et Apocalypse 10

Si vous aimez ceux qui vous aiment, quel gré vous en saura‑t‑on ? (Luc 6.32)

Lorsque la guerre a éclaté en 1950, le jeune Kim Chin‑Kyung de 15 ans s’est joint à l’armée sud‑coréenne pour défendre son pays. Il n’a alors pas tardé à découvrir qu’il n’était pas prêt à vivre les horreurs du combat. Tandis que de jeunes amis mouraient autour de lui, il a supplié Dieu d’épargner la sienne en lui promettant que, s’il lui permettait de vivre, il apprendrait à aimer ses ennemis.

Soixante‑cinq ans plus tard, Dr Kim a réfléchi à cette prière exaucée. Après avoir passé des décennies à s’occuper d’orphelins et à contribuer à l’éducation de jeunes Nord-Coréens et Chinois, il s’est lié d’amitié avec un grand nombre de ceux qu’il avait déjà considérés comme des ennemis. Aujourd’hui, il fuit les étiquettes politiques. Il préfère s’appeler amouriste, pour refléter sa foi en Jésus.

Le prophète Jonas a laissé un héritage différent. D’avoir été tiré du ventre d’un gros poisson n’a pas transformé son coeur. Bien qu’il ait fini par obéir à Dieu, Jonas a déclaré qu’il préférerait mourir plutôt que de regarder le Seigneur user de miséricorde envers ses ennemis (JON 4.1,2,8).

Qui saurait dire si Jonas en est venu à aimer les Ninivites ? Il ne nous reste qu’une seule possibilité : nous demander si nous adopterons son attitude envers ceux que nous redoutons et haïssons ou demander à Dieu de nous accorder la force d’aimer nos ennemis comme il s’est lui‑même montré miséricordieux envers nous.

L’amour triomphe de tout.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ