Wednesday, January 11, 2017

6 Common Misconceptions About Christmas

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke have stories of the infancy of Jesus which function as different overtures to way each of them present the stories they will go on to paint. In our Christmas cards, crib scenes, children’s books, and nativity plays we tend to conflate these two overtures, thereby losing some of the very points that Matthew and Luke were making. And then we add further components that we can go on to assume are there – reading them back into the texts when we pick them up.

1) There’s no mention of a donkey. We assume that Mary rode a donkey to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem (we are in Luke’s story for that journey). Luke may have wanted us to assume such an image (just as we assume an aeroplane if someone today writes about going from Christchurch to Singapore) but let’s be clear: there’s no mention of a donkey.

2) There’s no mention of an innkeeper. In fact there’s no mention of an inn:
διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι. (ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 2:7, SBLGNT* ) (Luke 2:7, WYC**)
καταλύματι (katalumati) only occurs here in the Bible. There are two other occurrences of κατάλυμά (kataluma) in the Bible: Mark 14:14 (WYC**) and Luke 22:11 (WYC**) where it is usually translated as “guest room”. So Wycliffe might have the best translation:
And she bare her firstborn son, and wrapped him in `clothes, and laid him in a feed-trough [and put him in a cratch], for there was no place to him in no chamber.
3) There’s no mention of a stable. There’s no mention of animals at the birth. Sure, there’s
καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ (ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 2:7, SBLGNT *) (Luke 2:7, WYC **)
where φάτνῃ (phatnē – usually rendered as “manger”) is a ledge in the end of the room on which food could be placed for animals.

4) There’s no mention that Mary gave birth to Jesus on the night they arrived in Bethlehem.

5) There’s no mention of three wise men – just three objects: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There’s no mention that they were kings. Placing three kings [and a star] in with shepherds, animals, and angel(s), not only mixes the two overtures, but also telescopes chronology. Matthew’s story of the wise men is set when Jesus is a toddler. Herod, remember, “killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16, WYC**).

6) There’s no mention of December 25. Sure, there’s one chance in 365 (366 if it was a leap year) that Jesus was born on December 25.

I’ve timed this post so that people are not too upset that I’m spoiling their (church) crib scene which has angels, animals, shepherds, and three kings all combined in one set of statues; or the children’s play depicts all these; or carols combine and add further details. I encourage you to reflect on how Matthew and Luke use their overtures to the story they are about to tell – for that reflection, you need to keep them separate. What is Luke’s message (with shepherds)? What is Matthew’s message (with magi)? As you, your church, your crib scene, your carol, your pastor’s sermon combine details and add (unprovided) details – that may be perfectly fine, but what is the message that is conveyed?

* Scripture quotations marked SBLGNT are from the The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition.

** Scripture quotations marked WYC are from the Wycliffe Bible hand-printed under the direction of John Wycliffe over a period from approximately 1382 to 1395.

The Daily Readings for WEDNESDAY, January 11, 2017

First Reading
Isaiah 41:1-16
Listen to me in silence, O coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength; let them approach, then let them speak; let us together draw near for judgment. Who has roused a victor from the east, summoned him to his service? He delivers up nations to him, and tramples kings under foot; he makes them like dust with his sword, like driven stubble with his bow. He pursues them and passes on safely, scarcely touching the path with his feet. Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, am first, and will be with the last. The coastlands have seen and are afraid, the ends of the earth tremble; they have drawn near and come. Each one helps the other, saying to one another, "Take courage!" The artisan encourages the goldsmith, and the one who smooths with the hammer encourages the one who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering, "It is good" and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved. But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off" do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Yes, all who are incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Do not fear, I will help you." Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. Then you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

Second Reading
Ephesians 2:1-10
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-- by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

The Holy Gospel
Mark 1:29-45
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Morning Psalms
Psalm 119: Aleph Beati immaculati
1   Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
2   Happy are they who observe his decrees and seek him with all their hearts!
3   Who never do any wrong, but always walk in his ways.
4   You laid down your commandments, that we should fully keep them.
5   Oh, that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes!
6   Then I should not be put to shame, when I regard all your commandments.
7   I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgments.
8   I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

Psalm 119: Beth In quo corrigit?
9   How shall a young man cleanse his way? By keeping to your words.
10   With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments.
11   I treasure your promise in my heart, that I may not sin against you.
12   Blessed are you, O LORD; instruct me in your statutes.
13   With my lips will I recite all the judgments of your mouth.
14   I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees than in all manner of riches.
15   I will meditate on your commandments and give attention to your ways.
16   My delight is in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Psalm 119: Gimel Retribue servo tuo
17   Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
18   Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law.
19   I am a stranger here on earth; do not hide your commandments from me.
20   My soul is consumed at all times with longing for your judgments.
21   You have rebuked the insolent; cursed are they who stray from your commandments!
22   Turn from me shame and rebuke, for I have kept your decrees.
23   Even though rulers sit and plot against me, I will meditate on your statutes.
24   For your decrees are my delight, and they are my counselors.

Evening Psalms
Psalm 12 Salvum me fac
1   Help me, LORD, for there is no godly one left; the faithful have vanished from among us.
2   Everyone speaks falsely with his neighbor; with a smooth tongue they speak from a double heart.
3   Oh, that the LORD would cut off all smooth tongues, and close the lips that utter proud boasts!
4   Those who say, "With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
5   Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up, says the LORD, and give them the help they long for.
6   The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined from ore and purified seven times in the fire.
7   O LORD, watch over us and save us from this generation for ever.
8   The wicked prowl on every side, and that which is worthless is highly prized by everyone.

Psalm 13 Usquequo, Domine?
1   How long, O LORD? will you forget me for ever? how long will you hide your face from me?
2   How long shall I have perplexity in my mind, and grief in my heart, day after day? how long shall my enemy triumph over me?
3   Look upon me and answer me, O LORD my God; give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
4   Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him, " and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.
5   But I put my trust in your mercy; my heart is joyful because of your saving help.
6   I will sing to the LORD, for he has dealt with me richly; I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.

Psalm 14 Dixit insipiens
1   The fool has said in his heart, There is no God." All are corrupt and commit abominable acts; there is none who does any good.
2   The LORD looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God.
3   Every one has proved faithless; all alike have turned bad; there is none who does good; no, not one.
4   Have they no knowledge, all those evildoers who eat up my people like bread and do not call upon the LORD?
5   See how they tremble with fear, because God is in the company of the righteous.
6   Their aim is to confound the plans of the afflicted, but the LORD is their refuge.
7   Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! when the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

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.

Verse of the Day - January 11, 2017

Psalm 118:5-6 (NIV) When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Read all of Psalm 118

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Morning Devotions with Cap'n Kenny - "It's Never Good-Bye"

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4, NIV)

The day my wife Barbara died was the hardest day of my life, needless to say. Now birthdays are difficult. Thanksgiving is difficult. Christmas is difficult. It's amazing how every occasion is loaded with memories we didn't know we had. We had been part of each other's lives for 41 years. I've remarried since then to a wonderful Christian lady who also lost her spouse, but, there is still a void in my life because of those memories.

That day I joined a club I never wanted to join: the club of those who have lost loved ones.

People pour their hearts out whenever I talk about this. They tell me their stories, and I have been in tears as I've heard from other's who have lost loved ones. I thank God for that. Despite this pain and tragedy, if we can bring a little hope or a little comfort to someone else, then I am thankful God has allowed us to have some joy despite this tragedy.

If it were up to me, I would have my wife back in a heartbeat. But I am not given that opportunity, of course. So I simply say, "Lord, I don't want to waste my pain. How can I use it for Your glory?" There are a lot of hurting people out there. I know what they're going through.

I have found that talking about heaven is helpful to me. It causes me to focus and think about where my late wife is right now.

Maybe you have a loved one who is in heaven—maybe a child, maybe a sibling, maybe a parent or grandparent, or maybe a spouse. If he or she trusted the Lord, then you have hope. And that hope is in heaven.

It is not good-bye forever; it is see you later. We will see our loved ones again because, as Christians, we never say good-bye.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

Un Dia a la Vez - Aeróbicos para el espíritu

Por la mañana, Señor, escuchas mi clamor; por la mañana te presento mis ruegos, y quedo a la espera de tu respuesta. Salmo 5:3

La adquisición de sabiduría es una bendición para nuestra vida. Todos los días en las noticias escuchamos la importancia de hacer ejercicios y que debemos caminar por lo menos media hora. Si a eso le sumamos una alimentación balanceada, tendremos una vida de buena calidad.

Lo mismo sucede con nuestra vida espiritual. Debemos ejercitarla mediante la oración, los momentos de intimidad con Dios y al congregarnos. Asimismo, la lectura del Manual de Instrucciones, que es la Biblia, nos da la seguridad de lo que Dios espera de nosotros y cómo debemos actuar ante diferentes situaciones que tengamos que vivir. Y para llegar a esto que llamamos «aeróbicos espirituales», nos hace falta disciplina. Esto es lo que sucede cuando decidimos ir al gimnasio o comenzar una nueva dieta. Todo comienzo es difícil.

Cuando empecé a leer la Biblia por mi cuenta, les confieso que muchas veces no entendía o no lo podía interpretar. Sin embargo, alguien me sugirió que leyera Proverbios, pues hay treinta y un capítulos, que son los días que por lo general trae un mes del año, y fue de mucha bendición. De igual manera orar y asistir a una iglesia te ayudarán a mantenerte conectado con Dios todo el tiempo y, créeme, tu vida será bendecida.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - THIS IS GOOD

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

A tribal king had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) as well as the lives of others and remarking, “This is good!” He based it on two scriptures: one that says that it is God’s will that we be thankful for ALL circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18); and Romans 8:28 which assures us that God can turn every situation (good or bad) into ultimate good. The king loved his friend’s positive outlook and took him with him wherever he went.

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. As the king fired his gun at a pheasant that flew up from the long grass, the rifle backfired and blew off his right thumb. Looking at the king’s bleeding hand; his friend remarked as usual, “This is good!”

The king was angry and replied, “No, this is NOT good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail for his insensitivity.

About a year later, the king was hunting all alone in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, and were going to cook him in a big pot. As they set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb on his right hand. Being very superstitious, cannibals never eat anyone who is less than perfect. So they released the king.

Walking home he kept staring at his right hand without a thumb. “This IS good!” he said out loud. He was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his shabby treatment of his friend. So he went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.

“You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied as usual, “This is good!” “What do you mean, ‘This is good?’ How could it be good that I put my friend in jail for over a year?” “Well,” replied his friend, “if I had not been here in jail, I would have been out there with you!”

In our SSTS seminars we share this story early in the sessions and for the rest of the time together holding up four fingers on the right hand (with a hidden thumb) communicates clearly the message: THIS IS GOOD!

RESPONSE: Today I will focus by faith on the potential good that God wants to bring out of the negative challenges I face in my life.

PRAYER: Pray that all persecuted Christians will respond to their daily challenges with this faith perspective.

Girlfriends in God - Sharing Is More Than Caring

Today’s Truth

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32, NIV)

Friend to Friend

“What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine.” My husband and I used to joke that this was the unspoken motto of our kids when they were little. Toddlers have no qualms about grabbing a toy, snack, or any random item of interest from other people or pets. It’s rare to see a child share her cherished possessions generously.

It can be hard for all of us to share.

Media bombards us with marketing campaigns that tell us we are the center of the universe. “You, you, you, you, you!”

Time and time again we hear that this life is all about us. The more we have, the happier we’ll be. The bigger that bank account, the more blessed the life.

I sincerely hope that none of us actually buy these lies. They’re dangerous deceptions.

How does this mentality slip into our realities? Sometimes we don’t want to share our time or our space. Sometimes we don’t want to share our loved ones or our gifts. Sometimes we don’t want to share our resources. And sometimes we just want to be left to ourselves and don’t want to share anything!

But God calls each of us to share.

The early New Testament church shows us that generous living honors God and blesses others. In Acts 4:32-37 we see an amazing snapshot of generous giving in the early church. The believers were one in heart and mind. They were supernaturally unified to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and you could not find a needy person among them.

Giving wasn’t political. It wasn’t mandatory. It wasn’t done begrudgingly.

…They shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32)

The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 11:29-30)

But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving … For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. (I Corinthians 8:7,12)

Everything that the believers owned belonged to God, and they knew it. They placed what they had before the leaders in selfless acts of worship … for the glory of God and the provision of others. This principle is very important, but it’s also very counter-cultural.

True life, a blessed life, an abundant life, a purposed life, is, in fact, all about God. What we have, have given birth to, or hold onto is really not our own. All of our treasures are just on loan to us for a breath of a moment by our more-than-generous Creator.

And each day brings us new opportunities to be good stewards.

Let’s face it; it’s just not always easy or natural to be generous. Perhaps we have been taken advantage of or we’ve been hurt by another’s deception. There are risks to giving.

The generous giving of the early church blessed the lives of their people. When we share what we have, God is honored and needs are met.

The risks are worth taking.

I’m not suggesting a Robin Hood philosophy of “take from the rich and give to the poor.” And I don’t believe in the politics of communism or socialism. This principle of generous giving is Biblical. It’s an act of worship to God. It matters to God, and it should matter to us.

Let’s reject the toddler mentality of “what’s mine is mine.”

God loves a cheerful giver.

We are blessed to give.

Tell God today: “Lord, what’s mine is Yours!”

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, Thank You for this reminder from Your Word. You are lavish in Your love and have given me so much. All I have is Yours. Please help me to excel in the grace and worship of giving. Open my eyes to opportunities to bless others for Your glory.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

How do you feel about your people, passions, and possessions? Have you shared generously lately? Is God bringing anyone to your mind that could use your help or generosity?

Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 8:1-15.

Remember, giving isn’t always about money. We can give in many ways; service, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a dinner to a new mom, or time spent with an elderly friend. Now… go bless someone today!!

More from the Girlfriends

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LHM Daily Devotion - January 11, 2017 "How We See Jesus"

 January 11, 2017

And coming to His hometown He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? ...."   - Matthew 13:54-55a

Not so long ago Pam and I attended a school reunion.

I'm not sure, but from what I've seen, at most reunions the very first thing they do is give you a badge with your name on it -- and a copy of your senior picture. They give badges so we can figure out who we're talking to when we lovingly say, "Oh, you haven't changed a bit." Often we're shocked to find out the fellow voted most likely to succeed, hasn't; the couple most likely to stay together, didn't; and the computer geek looks far more attractive since he made his first $20 million.

It's hard to get past the mental image we have of some people, isn't it?

That was certainly the situation Jesus encountered when He returned to Nazareth.

No, He wasn't there for a high school reunion. This was more the homecoming of a "local Boy who made good." Since Jesus' departure from Nazareth, stories had slowly filtered their way back to that little village. For example, they may have heard how Jesus had turned water into wine and had healed a nobleman's son.

Those were the kind of accomplishments that should have had the town roll out the red carpet, had the school band lead a parade down Main Street, and the church bells pealing out a ring of warm welcome. Jesus' return should have been celebrated with Nazareth's mayor making a speech and giving Him a gold-painted key to the city. On the main road, the city fathers should have put up signs saying, "Nazareth. Come See Jesus' Boyhood Home!"

None of those things happened.

What did happen was this: as was His custom, Jesus went to church -- to Synagogue -- and read Scripture: words of prophecy from Isaiah ... words He claimed referred to Him. It didn't take too long before Jesus' old friends rejected His claim to be the Messiah. It didn't take too long before those old friends shut Him off, shut Him down, and tried to shove Him off a cliff.

They couldn't see Jesus for who He really was. It is a problem people still have today.

Today we have people who hear Jesus say, "Do unto others," and they applaud Him as a great moralist. Others listen when He tells them to "love one another," and they shout the praises of a peacemaker. Some people admire His story-telling ability and acknowledge Him as a great teacher. Yet others point to Him as a philanthropist, a healer, and a homespun philosopher.

And although Jesus was all of those things, He was also the One -- the only -- the unique Son of God and heaven-sent Savior of the world. Any description of the Christ that leaves out the blood-bought title of "Savior" is incomplete, imperfect and inadequate. Calvary's cross and the empty tomb are the badges by which we can identify Him who carried our sins, died our death and, in resurrection victory, has given us forgiveness and eternal life.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, by the Holy Spirit's power we have been able to identify Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Now grant us the desire to share that truth with the many millions in this world who see only a second-rate Jesus. In the Savior's Name I ask it. Amen.

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

CPTLN Devocional de 11 de Enero de 2017 - Recuérdame

11 de Enero 2017

Señor, acuérdate de mí cuando tu bondad alcance a tu pueblo; ¡ven a brindarme tu salvación! Salmo 106:4, RVC

El nombre que figuraba en el certificado de nacimiento no era José, sino Jorge. Aunque eso ya no es importante, porque ese joven, fuera José o Jorge, desapareció hace muchos años.

La última vez que fue visto en su pueblo en Kansas fue cuando tenía 11 ó 12 años, y de eso hace ya más de diez años. José ha estado desaparecido durante tantos años... y nadie se ha dado cuenta.

Aunque parezca mentira, los padres adoptivos de José nunca contactaron a la policía, porque pensaron que se había fugado para ir a vivir con sus padres biológicos. Dijeron que se habían preocupado mucho, pero aun así no llamaron a la policía. La desaparición de José se descubrió cuando alguien llamó a la Unidad de Niños Explotados y Perdidos. Desde entonces, todos han estado, y aún siguen, buscando al joven.

Junto con nuestras oraciones por José, debemos dar gracias a nuestro querido Padre celestial quien, al vernos perdidos en pecado y separados de su familia, hizo todo lo que era necesario para traernos de vuelta.

Jesús vino al mundo para buscar y salvar a quienes estaban perdidos. Como uno de nosotros, él cumplió las leyes que habíamos traspasado y resistió los pecados que nos habían seducido. Y para que la muerte nunca nos pudiera separar de nuestro Padre, el Salvador dio su vida en la cruz del Calvario.

Gracias a él, todos los que creen en Jesús como su Salvador han sido reunidos con su Padre en el cielo.

Parafraseando las palabras del salmista, podemos decir: "Te doy gracias porque te has acordado de mí, Señor, porque nos has mostrado tu misericordia y nos has ayudado y salvado".

ORACIÓN: Querido Señor Jesús, gracias por haber venido a encontrarme cuando estaba perdido y por haber dado tu vida para que yo pudiera vivir. Te pido que envíes tu Espíritu para que restaure a quienes están separados de sus familias terrenales y eternas. En tu nombre. Amén.

© Copyright 2017 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones

An International House of Prayer - Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Day 2

What does the Bible have to say about prejudice? What messages of love does God have for all the people and cultures He created? What opportunities does a diverse church of today have in a society still troubled by racism?

The two-week Fearfully and Wonderfully Made daily devotional—based on passages from the NKJV Modern Life Study Bible—will guide you through a series of Biblical excerpts focused on confronting ethnic prejudice. You'll walk through both the Old and New Testaments, discovering a tapestry of cultural connections throughout the historical richness of Scripture and learn about God's promises of love to those who face discrimination and prejudice. From the call of Abraham to the Samaritan woman at the well, find out how the God of Israel has shown himself to be the God of all tribes and nations.

Today’s reading is drawn from 1 Kings 8:41-43.

Solomon’s prayer dedicating the temple showed that Israel’s God was the God of all nations. The king anticipated that foreigners from throughout the world would be drawn to the house of worship in Jerusalem. He asked God to honor their prayers so that “all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You.”

Solomon’s prayer was soon answered by a visit from the queen of Sheba (1 Kin. 10:1–13). She had heard rumors of Solomon’s splendors but wanted to see them for herself. When she observed all his accomplishments, she praised God for what the king had done for Israel (10:9). Other visitors had similar reactions (see 2 Chr. 6:32, 33).

The temple was situated at Jerusalem, but as Jesus pointed out (quoting Isaiah), it was meant to be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Is. 56:7; Mark 11:17). Likewise, Israel was to bless the nations and light the way toward the one true God (Gen.12:1–3; Is. 51:4).

Jesus also taught His followers to be a light to the world (Matt. 5:14–16). But rather than gathering others to a central place of worship, believers today have been commanded to scatter throughout the earth, taking the news of God’s grace around the world.

Our Daily Bread - Work Together

Read: Romans 8:28–30 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 27–28; Matthew 8:18–34

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

My wife makes an amazing pot roast dinner. She takes raw meat, along with raw sliced white and sweet potatoes, celery, mushrooms, carrots, and onions and throws them into the slow cooker. Six or seven hours later the aroma fills the house, and the first taste is a delight. It is always to my advantage to wait until the ingredients in the slow cooker work together to achieve something they could not achieve individually.

When Paul used the phrase “work together” in the context of suffering, he used the word from which we get our word synergy. He wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). He wanted the Romans to know that God, who didn’t cause their suffering, would cause all their circumstances to cooperate with His divine plan—for their ultimate good. The good to which Paul referred was not the temporal blessings of health, wealth, admiration, or success, but being “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (v. 29).

May we wait patiently and confidently because our heavenly Father is taking all the suffering, all the distress, all the evil, and causing them to work together for His glory and our spiritual good. He wants to make us like Jesus.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 1:6, and 1 Peter 5:10. What encouragement did you find for tough times?

The growth we gain from waiting on God is often greater than the answer or result we desire.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Nuestro Pan Diario - Trabajar juntos

Leer: Romanos 8:28-30 | La Biblia en un año: Mateo 8:18-34

Y sabemos que a los que aman a Dios, todas las cosas les ayudan a bien… (Romanos 8:28)

Mi esposa prepara un estofado delicioso. Mezcla carne, patatas blancas y dulces en rodajas, apio, hongos, zanahorias y cebollas, y pone todo en una olla de cocción lenta. Seis o siete horas después, el aroma llena la casa, y el primer bocado es una delicia. Siempre me resulta ventajoso esperar hasta que los ingredientes se cocinen juntos lentamente para que resulte algo que sería imposible lograr por separado.

En la frase «todas las cosas les ayudan», expresadas en un contexto de sufrimiento, Pablo usó la palabra de donde proviene el término sinergia. Dijo: «Y sabemos que a los que aman a Dios, todas las cosas les ayudan a bien, esto es, a los que conforme a su propósito son llamados» (Romanos 8:28). Quería que los romanos supieran que Dios, que no era el causante de su sufrimiento, haría que todas las circunstancias cooperaran con su plan divino, para un beneficio final. Ese bien no se eran bendiciones temporales —como salud, riquezas, fama o éxito—, sino ser «hechos conformes a la imagen de su Hijo» (v. 29).

Esperemos con paciencia y confiados porque nuestro Padre celestial está tomando todo sufrimiento, angustia y mal, y haciendo que se combinen para su gloria y nuestro beneficio espiritual. Él quiere hacernos como Jesús.

Señor, que pueda ver tu mano detrás de cada circunstancia.

El crecimiento que logramos al esperar en Dios suele ser más importante que el resultado que deseamos.

© 2016 Ministerios Nuestro Pan Diario

Unser Täglich Brot - Zusammenwirken

Lesen: Römer 8,28-30 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: 1.Mose 27–28; Matthäus 8,18-34

Wir wissen aber, dass denen, die Gott lieben, alle Dinge zum Besten dienen, denen, die nach seinem Ratschluss berufen sind. Römer 8,28

Meine Frau kocht einen fantastischen Gulaschtopf. Sie nimmt rohes Fleisch, schneidet Kartoffeln und Süßkartoffeln, Sellerie, Champignons, Möhren und Zwiebeln in Scheiben und wirft alles zusammen in den Schongarer. Sechs oder sieben Stunden später schwebt ein köstlicher Duft durchs Haus und der erste Bissen ist eine Wonne. Es ist immer zu meinem Vorteil, wenn ich warte, bis die Zutaten im Garer zusammenwirken und etwas entsteht, was sie einzeln nicht zuwege bringen würden.

Für das Wort, das in Römer 8,28 von Luther mit „dienen“ wiedergegeben wurde, hat Paulus den griechischen Begriff Synergie verwendet, was soviel wie „mitwirken, behilflich sein, verhelfen“ bedeutet. Die Römer sollten wissen, dass Gott, der nicht an ihrem Leiden Schuld ist, dafür sorgen würde, dass alle Umstände an seinem göttlichen Plan mitwirken können—letztlich zu ihrem Besten. Das Beste, von dem Paulus spricht, sind nicht vergängliche Dinge wie Gesundheit, Wohlstand, Bewunderung oder Erfolg, sondern „dass sie gleich sein sollten dem Bild seines [Gottes] Sohnes“ (V.29).

Wir wollen geduldig und voll Vertrauen warten, weil unser himmlischer Vater alles Leid, alle Not und alles Böse dazu verwenden kann, dass es zu seiner Ehre und unserem geistlichen Wohl mitwirkt. Er möchte, dass wir wie Jesus werden.

Lies 2.Korinther 12,9; Philipper 1,6 und 1.Petrus 5,10. Was ermutigt dich in Schwierigkeiten?

Das Wachstum, das wir erleben, wenn wir auf Gott warten, ist oft größer als die Antwort oder das Ergebnis, das wir uns wünschen.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Совместный труд

Читать сейчас: Римлянам 8:28-30 | Библия за год: Бытие 27-28; Матфея 8:18-34

Притом знаем, что любящим Бога, призванным по Его изволению, все содействует ко благу. — Римлянам 8:28

Моя жена замечательно готовит мясное блюдо в горшочке. Она берет сырое мясо, порезанную кружочками картошку, грибы, морковь и лук, все это укладывает в горшочек и медленно тушит в духовке. Через шесть-семь часов дом наполняется ароматом. Вкус изумительный! Я всякий раз удивляюсь тому, как разные ингредиенты за время приготовления создают особый вкус, какого не было бы, приготовь мы их по отдельности.

Когда апостол Павел пишет гонимым христианам, что им все «содействует» ко благу, он употребляет знакомое многим греческое слово «синергия», то есть объединенная сила. Он пишет: «Любящим Бога, призванным по Его изволению, все содействует ко благу» (Рим. 8:28). Павел хотел донести до римлян истину о том, что Бог употребит все тесные обстоятельства для достижения Своего высшего замысла – их блага. Благо, о котором пишет апостол, не имеет отношения к временным благословениям: здоровью, богатству или успеху. Он говорит о преображении в образ Иисуса Христа (Рим. 8:29).

Будем ждать терпеливо и уверенно, потому что наш Небесный Отец может взять все наши страдания, все скорби, все зло и заставить их содействовать Его Славе и нашему духовному благу. Он желает сделать нас подобными Иисусу Христу.

Прочитайте 2 Коринфянам 12:9; Филиппийцам 1:6 и 1 Петра 5:10. Какое ободрение вы можете найти в трудные времена?

Рост, обретаемый в ожидании Бога, часто важнее, чем желаемый нами ответ.

© 2016 Хлеб Наш Насущный

Notre Pain Quotidien - Travailler ensemble

Nous savons, du reste, que toutes choses concourent au bien de ceux qui aiment Dieu, de ceux qui sont appelés selon son dessein. (Romains 8.28)

Ma femme fait un fabuleux braisé. Elle met une pièce de viande crue, ainsi que des tranches de pommes de terre et de patates douces crues, du céleri, des champignons, des carottes et des oignons dans la mijoteuse. Six ou sept heures plus tard, l’arôme emplit la maison, et la première bouchée pour juger de sa cuisson est un pur délice. J’ai toujours avantage à attendre que le goût des ingrédients qui y cuisent se mélange jusqu’à donner quelque chose qu’ils ne pourraient produire séparément.

Lorsque Paul a employé le verbe « concourent » dans le contexte des souffrances, il s’est servi du terme dont est dérivé l’équivalent français chirurgie. Il a écrit : « Nous savons, du reste, que toutes choses concourent au bien de ceux qui aiment Dieu, de ceux qui sont appelés selon son dessein » (RO 8.28). Il voulait que les Romains sachent que Dieu, qui n’était pas la source de leurs souffrances, ferait concourir toutes leurs pénibles situations au profit de son plan divin, à savoir leur bien ultime. Or, le bien dont Paul parle ici ne correspond pas aux bénédictions temporelles de la santé, de la richesse, de l’admiration et du succès, mais au fait d’être « semblables à l’image [du] Fils [de Dieu] » (V. 29).

Puissions‑nous attendre patiemment et avec assurance le temps de notre Père céleste, sachant qu’il s’emploie à faire en sorte que toute souffrance, toute détresse et tout mal concourent ensemble à sa gloire et à notre bien spirituel. Il désire nous rendre semblables à Jésus.

Nous attendre à Dieu rapporte plus que la satisfaction de nos désirs.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ