Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Daily Readings for WEDNESDAY, December 21, 2016 - Saint Thomas the Apostle Day

Thomas the apostle

First Reading
Habakkuk 2:1-4
I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

Psalm 126 In convertendo
1   When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream.
2   Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
3   Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
4   The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.
5   Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses of the Negev.
6   Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.
7   Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Second Reading
Hebrews 10:35-11:1
Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet "in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back." But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The Holy Gospel
John 20:24-29
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

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 - "Christ the Lord"

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

The angel began that wonderful announcement to the shepherds with, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. . . ." Maybe you are suffering today. You might find yourself wondering, Where is the joy? But what is the joy about? Is it about an opportunity to go shopping? Is the message of Christmas "Let it snow"? No, it is, "Let us worship."

The angels' visit to the shepherds became the first Christmas celebration. It's as though heaven and earth were celebrating it together, as though a portal to glory had been opened up. These shepherds saw the supernatural world, the heavenly world. On that first Christmas, there was a big celebration in heaven and on earth over the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have a Savior: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:11). That is the most important thing. We have a Savior who came to save us from the power and penalty of sin. Whatever you are going through in life, remember this: you have a Savior. He has put your sins as far away from you as the east is from the west.

Christ means "anointed one." Another word for that is Messiah. Jesus was the fulfillment of God's promise to send His Son as the Messiah. This is a simple reminder that God keeps His promises. God said that He would send a Messiah, and the Messiah came.

Lord means that we have a sovereign God who is in control of our lives.

So set aside the things you have become preoccupied with and remember that you have a Savior. You have a Lord. You have a Christ. And you have His promises.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

Standing Strong Through the Storm - NEVER TOO OLD TO SERVE JESUS

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Psalm 92:12-15

As I share with numerous audiences my experiences from years of ministry in Asia, I often try to drive home the point that the Church in China teaches us that you can never be too young and never too old to serve Jesus.

Our Western church culture marginalizes youths until they have finished some level of higher education. And even worse, we marginalize those who are retired as now being “over the hill” and only fit to sit in a rocking chair for whatever years remain for them.

But repeatedly in the Old Testament, there are references to the elderly “still bearing fruit in old age!” And the persecuted church is replete with stories and testimonies giving evidence.

In 1997 I wrote a booklet titled Great Bible Women of China in which I share the story of five elderly Chinese Bible Women who completed long fruitful lives of service, finishing strong.

In his book, Vietnam’s Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity, veteran Vietnam missionary, Reg Reimer, shares the remarkable story of diminutive Mrs. Diep Thi Do. She and her pastor husband served as missionaries among the Stieng tribal people for twenty years. Just before Vietnam fell in 1975, her husband was captured by the communists and was never heard from again. She then did not dare do any tribal ministry except pray.

In 1981, emerging from the deep underground during the darkest years, she encountered some very discouraged Stieng Christians in the market. They begged her to be their missionary and pastor. She considered this a strong call from God and courageously called the Stieng back into church groups. She often “stared down” resistance from communist authorities. She presided over the building of the largest church sanctuary in Vietnam. She performed all pastoral functions including marrying, burying, appointing leaders and administering the sacraments. Her bravery and her spiritual authority ensured that no one ever challenged her operating essentially as a bishop.

Reg Reimer concludes, “She described herself as ‘only a little woman.’ But her faith and trust in God made her a giant in the lives of thousands of Stieng Christians she had served for fifty-five years. More than four thousand came to attend her funeral and celebrate her life when she died at age eighty-four in 2008.”[1] You can never be too old to serve Jesus!

RESPONSE: Today I will acknowledge that disciples of Jesus can be useful for Him at any age—especially in their elderly years.

PRAYER: Pray that elderly believers will realize the giftedness they have and can continue to utilize.

1. Reg Reimer, Vietnam’s Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2011), p. 60.

Un Dia a la Vez - Tú y toda tu casa

Cree en el Señor Jesucristo, y serás salvo, tú y tu casa. Hechos 16:31, RV-60

Es posible que lleves años orando por tu familia para que conozcan de Dios. ¡No te canses de hacerlo! Cuando menos lo pienses, la oración que está bajo la voluntad del Padre recibirá respuesta.

Por eso no podemos desanimarnos si pasan meses, años y no hay cambio.

Muchas personas se desaniman y piensan que Dios jamás hará el milagro.

Yo soy fruto de esa oración permanente de mi hermana Norma. Ella fue la primera de la familia en conocer de Jesús y, desde entonces, empezó a orar por mi salvación. Al principio, era muy duro porque la rechazaba y la llamaba «religiosa» porque la veía con la Biblia. Sin embargo, ¡quién pensaría que al año yo estaría postrada recibiendo a mi Jesús!

Después de mí vino la conversión de mi mami, mi papi, de Helenita, su esposa, y de esa manera se ha ido cumpliendo la Palabra de Dios para salvación de toda la familia.

No te desanimes y ora sin cesar. La oración tiene poder.

Girlfriends in God - Giving the Perfect Christmas Gifts (Part 2)

Today’s Truth

If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you (Luke 6:38, NLT).

Friend to Friend

Have you discovered the truth that we simply cannot “out-give” God? The more we give, the more we receive. And that truth does not just apply to financial giving. It is really all about the attitude behind the gift. Do you remember the Christmas gifts you received last year? How about the Christmas gifts you gave? What about the gift you gave Jesus? Yesterday we talked about several meaningful gifts you can give. Here are a few more for you to consider.

A gift of care Galatians 6:2 (RSV) “Bear one another’s burdens.”

Christmas is a time of empty hopes and fierce loneliness for many people. In fact, the holidays can be nothing more than a season riddled with pain. Every loss is magnified. Every wound is deepened. Pray that the Father will give you His eyes to see the broken lambs, crying out for help. This year, do something for someone who is hurting:

  • Invite them over for a meal.
  • Listen to them.
  • Meet one need in their life.
  • Include them in your celebration.
  • Take them shopping with you.
Christmas is always hard for me because it is a time when I especially miss my mother who died many years ago. I don’t openly broadcast that fact, but one Christmas a precious older lady at our church somehow sensed that I was struggling and decided to meet a need in my life. Cards filled my mailbox. Every time I saw her, Miss Marion would hug me and tell me how much she loved me. She invited our children over to bake Christmas cookies and in doing so, became their adopted grandmother. Miss Marion died years ago, but her loving care and investment in my life lives on.

A secret gift Matthew 6:3-4 (NLT) “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Give a secret gift to someone you know - with no hidden motive and no apparent benefit to you. Dan and I had been married for three years when we first discovered the joy that a “secret gift” can bring. Dan was in seminary, I was teaching elementary school, and we were both serving at a local church. It seemed as if we were always running, always tired and always broke. At one point, the financial picture was especially bleak. We had 10 days of life to go before the next payday and not a cent to our name. We told no one but God -- and waited. One Sunday night, we pulled up to the mobile home where we were living and started in the front door. There on the top step was a small but heavy package wrapped in brown paper. It was a brick. Taped to each side of the brick was a hundred dollar bill. God had provided for our needs through a truly generous heart, someone who had chosen to give a secret gift. To this day, we still have no idea who “bricked” us, but we often think of them and ask God to bless their gift of encouragement.

A gift of teaching Romans 12:7 (NLT) “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”

What skill, ability or talent has God given you? Each one is from His hand and meant to be given away in service to others. Is there a young believer in your life you can mentor? What better time to share your gifts and abilities than at Christmas? You may be able to sew or play the piano, cook gourmet meals, or beautifully decorate your home. Each talent and ability is a potential gift. In high school, my choral director gave me a free voice lesson each week. Consequently, I attended college on an academic and music scholarship because one woman chose to share her gift of teaching with me.

Get creative! Give a gift from the heart this year. May this be a Christmas filled with the joy of the Lord as you celebrate His birth and life.

Let’s Pray

Father, You have given me so much. Thank You for the blessings in my life. Thank You for meeting my every need. Please help me give with a joyful heart. I want You to be pleased and honored by the gifts I give this Christmas.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Grab your Christmas list and set aside some time to pray for each person on that list this week. Do you need to rethink some of the gifts you are giving this year? It is not too late! Ask God how you can best honor His birth by the gifts you give to others.

More from the Girlfriends

"I am flat broke and Christmas is just around the corner!" Do those words sound familiar? Don't let gift giving become a chore instead of a joy. In this message, Giving the Perfect Gift, you will discover how to give ten wonderful gifts without spending a penny!

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.

Verse of the Day - December 21, 2016

Luke 2:6-7 (NIV) While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Read all of Luke 2

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

LHM Daily Devotion - "Death's Shadow"

(Zechariah said) "because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1:78-79a, ESV).

Read Luke 1:76-79.

In Charles Dickens' book The Christmas Carol, Bob Cratchit looks at his eldest son, nearly grown and about to leave home, and tells his family, "But however and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim -- shall we -- or this first parting that there was among us."

The first parting among my family was my father's death. The next Christmas we tried hard to recapture the joy and laughter of former Christmases, but we all felt the empty place his parting had left behind.

In Zechariah's words of praise to God, he briefly turns to speak of his son John and the great work God would accomplish through him as Jesus' great prophet and forerunner. But now he turns back to Jesus' far greater work.

He describes Jesus as the sun that comes to us from heaven. Just as the morning sun rises to scatter the darkness of night, Jesus Christ will arise to shatter the darkness of sin, doubt and death. Jesus comes to those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. They are sitting because they have no power or hope; they have given up the fight. But through His life, death and resurrection, Jesus has scattered the shadow that death casts across us. Raising us to our feet by faith, He sets us moving toward heaven again. He guides our feet along the way of peace that leads to God the Father's presence in heaven-and a joyous eternal reunion with our loved ones-those who have died in faith.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, shine Your light on our darkness, comfort us in our grief, and set our feet once again on the path of peace -- the road to heaven. 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 ADN de Jesús

 Mateo 1:1-17

Y Jacob engendró a José, marido de María, de la cual nació Jesús, llamado el Cristo. (Mat 1:16, RVC)

Una genealogía es el estudio de los genes de determinada persona. La genealogía nos actualiza los trazos hereditarios de un personaje dado. Por nuestra sangre corre, por así decirlo, un río de historia. Esa historia puede pasar por ilustres personajes o seres que avergüenzan. Todos somos, de alguna manera, representantes de un pasado que se pierde en el tiempo.

La Biblia dedica bastante espacio a reconstruir esos ríos de historia, llamados genealogías. El evangelio de Mateo nos presenta de entrada al protagonista, Jesucristo, como hijo ilustre de David y Abraham, dos personajes notorios. Pero en esa galería de nombres también se cuelan personajes que quizás, si se tratara de nuestra genealogía, los borraríamos: Tamar, que consiguió un hijo engañando a su suegro; Rut, una extranjera de un pueblo rival; Rahab, una prostituta devenida en salvadora y Betsabé, una mujer forzada a ser esposa de David. De esa historia, Jesucristo emerge como el eslabón dorado en una cadena de luces y sombras.

Lo más asombroso es que, más allá de los nombres, Jesucristo representa a todos y cada uno de los nombrados. Él viene a revertir historias de pecado y vergüenza; historias como la tuya y la mía. En la hora del juicio, él tomará sobre sí nuestras bajezas para inaugurar un tiempo nuevo: un tiempo en el que nadie habrá de ser condenado por su pasado. Como humano, aunque sin pecado, él representará lo más vil de cada uno. Por eso su entrada en el mundo será en profunda humildad. Por fe en él, somos incorporados ahora a su historia gloriosa. Él, el Salvador, llega a ser nuestro hermano, nuestro Jesucristo.

Jesucristo, mi Salvador: te agradezco por la humildad con la que fuiste revestido. Toma mi historia de pecado y vergüenza, y hazla una historia de perdón y salvación. Amén

© Copyright 2016 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones

Our Daily Bread - A Personal Story

Read: Exodus 1:22–2:10 | Bible in a Year: Micah 4–5; Revelation 12

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Psalm 27:10 nlt

A baby just hours old was left in a manger in a Christmas nativity outside a New York church. A young, desperate mother had wrapped him warmly and placed him where he would be discovered. If we are tempted to judge her, we can instead be thankful this baby will now have a chance in life.

This gets personal for me. As an adopted child myself, I have no idea about the circumstances surrounding my birth. But I have never felt abandoned. Of this much I am certain: I have two moms who wanted me to have a chance in life. One gave life to me; the other invested her life in me.

In Exodus we read about a loving mother in a desperate situation. Pharaoh had ordered the murder of all baby boys born to the Jewish people (Exodus 1:22). So Moses’s mother hid him as long as she could. When Moses was three months old, she put him in a watertight basket and placed the basket in the Nile River. If the plan was to have the baby rescued by a princess, grow up in Pharaoh’s palace, and eventually deliver his people out of slavery, it worked perfectly.

When a desperate mother gives her child a chance, God can take it from there. He has a habit of doing that—in the most creative ways imaginable.

Father, today we pray for those facing desperate and lonely times. We pray especially for poor and defenseless children everywhere. Help us meet their needs as we are able.

Share the love of Christ.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Nuestro Pan Diario - Una historia personal

Leer: Éxodo 1:22–2:10 | La Biblia en un año: Apocalipsis 12

Aunque mi padre y mi madre me dejaran, con todo, el Señor me recogerá (Salmo 27:10).

Un bebé con solo unas horas de vida fue dejado en un pesebre de Navidad fuera de una iglesia de Nueva York. Una madre joven y desesperada lo había envuelto para protegerlo del frío y lo dejó donde pudieran verlo. Si nos sentimos tentados a juzgarla, deberíamos, en cambio, dar gracias de que el niño tiene ahora la posibilidad de vivir.

A mí, esto me toca personalmente. Como fui adoptado, no tengo idea de qué circunstancias rodearon mi nacimiento, pero nunca me sentí abandonado. Lo único que sé es esto: tengo dos madres que querían que tuviera una oportunidad en la vida. Una me dio vida a mí; la otra invirtió su vida en mí.

En Éxodo, leemos sobre una madre amorosa en una situación desesperante. Faraón había ordenado asesinar a todos los bebés varones judíos que nacieran (Éxodo 1:22). Entonces, la madre de Moisés lo escondió tanto como pudo. A los tres meses, lo puso en una cesta impermeable en el río Nilo. Si su plan era que una princesa lo rescatara, que creciera en el palacio de Faraón y que, al final, liberara a su pueblo de la esclavitud, funcionó a la perfección.

Cuando una madre desesperada le da una oportunidad a su hijo, Dios puede aprovechar la situación. Él está habituado a hacerlo, y de las formas más creativas imaginables.

Señor, ayúdanos a ayudar a los desesperados y solitarios.

Comparte el amor de Cristo.

© 2016 Ministerios Nuestro Pan Diario

Unser Täglich Brot - Eine persönliche Geschichte

Lesen: 2.Mose 1,22–2,10 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: Micha 4–5; Offenbarung 12

Denn mein Vater und meine Mutter verlassen mich, aber der Herr nimmt mich auf. (Psalm 27,10)

Ein nur wenige Stunden altes Baby wurde in der Krippe einer Krippenszene vor einer New Yorker Kirche abgelegt. Eine junge verzweifelte Mutter hatte den Kleinen warm eingepackt und an einem Ort hinterlassen, wo er gefunden werden würde. Anstatt sie zu verurteilen, sollten wir dankbar sein, dass das Baby eine Chance zum Leben hat.

Mich berührt die Geschichte, weil ich selbst adoptiert wurde. Ich weiß nichts von den Umständen bei meiner Geburt. Aber ich hatte nie das Gefühl, ich sei im Stich gelassen worden. Was ich sicher weiß: Ich habe zwei Mütter, die wollten, dass ich eine Chance im Leben habe. Eine schenkte mir das Leben, die andere widmete mir ihr Leben.

In 2.Mose lesen wir von einer Mutter in einer verzweifelten Situation. Pharao hatte angeordnet, dass alle neugeborenen Jungen der Israeliten getötet werden sollten (2.Mose 1,22). Deshalb wurde Mose von seiner Mutter versteckt, solange es möglich war. Als er drei Monate war, legte sie ihn in ein wasserdichtes Körbchen und setzte ihn auf dem Nil aus. Ob sie wohl damit gerechnet hatte, dass das Baby von einer Prinzessin gerettet, im Palast des Pharaos aufwachsen und später sein Volk aus der Sklaverei retten würde?

Wenn eine verzweifelte Mutter ihrem Kind eine Chance geben möchte, kann Gott es von da an übernehmen. Er macht so etwas—auf kreative und für uns oft unvorstellbare Art.

Vater, heute beten wir für alle, die verzweifelt und allein sind. Wir beten besonders für die armen und wehrlosen Kinder auf der ganzen Welt. Hilf uns, ihnen zu helfen, wo wir können.

Gib Jesu Liebe weiter.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Личная история

Читать сейчас: Исход 1:22–2:10 | Библия за год: Михей 4-5; Откровение 12

Ибо отец мой и мать моя оставили меня, но Господь примет меня. — Псалом 26:10

Новорожденный младенец был оставлен в яслях внутри рождественской инсталляции возле церкви в Нью-Йорке. Отчаявшаяся молодая мать потеплее укутала его и положила там, где его должны были скоро найти. Если нам захотелось осудить ее, то лучше порадуемся, что у ребенка появился в жизни шанс.

Для меня этот случай имел особый смысл. Я тоже был приемным ребенком и ничего не знаю об обстоятельствах своего рождения. Но я никогда не чувствовал себя брошенным. Я уверен в том, что у меня две мамы, которые тоже хотели, чтобы у меня был шанс. Одна дала мне жизнь. Другая вложила свою жизнь в меня.

В книге Исход есть рассказ о любящей матери, оказавшейся в отчаянном положении. Фараон распорядился убивать всех новорожденных еврейских мальчиков (Исх. 1:22). Поэтому мать вначале прятала Моисея, сколько могла, а три месяца спустя положила его в просмоленную корзинку и опустила в реку. Если ее план состоял в том, что дочь фараона увидит младенца и пожалеет его, то он сработал идеально.

Если отчаявшаяся мать решает дать ребенку другой шанс, Бог может совершить удивительное. И Он часто это делает, и весьма необычным образом.

Отче, сегодня мы молимся о людях, находящихся в трудных обстоятельствах. Особенно просим Тебя о бедных и беззащитных детях. Помоги нам, где возможно, позаботиться о них.

Делитесь любовью Христа.

© 2016 Хлеб Наш Насущный

Notre Pain Quotidien - Une histoire personnelle

Lisez : Exode 1.22 ‑ 2.10 | La Bible en un an : Michée 4 – 5 et Apocalypse 12

Car mon père et ma mère m’abandonnent, mais l’Éternel me recueillera. (Psaume 27.10)

Une jeune mère désespérée a déposé un jour son bébé d’à peine quelques heures dans la crèche de la Nativité devant une église de New York. Elle l’avait enveloppé chaudement avant de le placer là où on le découvrirait. Si nous sommes tentés de la juger, nous devrions plutôt être reconnaissants de ce que ce bébé aura maintenant une chance de vivre.

C’est ici que l’histoire devient personnelle pour moi. En tant qu’enfant adopté, je n’ai moi‑même aucune idée de la situation entourant ma naissance. Je ne me suis néanmoins jamais senti abandonné. Je suis certain d’une chose : j’ai deux mères qui ont voulu que j’aie une chance de vivre. L’une d’elles m’a donné la vie ; l’autre a investi sa vie en moi.

Dans le livre de l’Exode, nous lisons l’histoire d’une mère bienveillante s’étant retrouvée dans une situation désespérée. Pharaon avait ordonné le meurtre de tous les enfants mâles nés de parents juifs (Exode 1:22). La mère de Moïse l’a alors caché aussi longtemps qu’elle a pu. Lorsque Moïse avait trois mois, elle l’a couché dans un panier étanche, qu’elle a mis sur le Nil. Si son projet visait à voir son enfant être secouru par une princesse, grandir dans le palais de Pharaon et finir par délivrer son peuple de l’esclavage, alors il a réussi à la perfection.

Lorsqu’une mère désespérée donne une chance à son enfant, Dieu peut prendre la relève. Il en a d’ailleurs l’habitude, et cela, de façon la plus imaginative possible.

Partagez l’amour de Christ.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ