Monday, February 13, 2017

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Eight women from eight very different backgrounds, yet the struggles they each faced rang with eerie similarity. From Pakistan, India, Romania, the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Nepal, and Indonesia, these women shared similar experiences of hardship and persecution—all for their faith in Christ—yet they have emerged from adversity as leaders and heroines. Get free book now!

Readers Love Hearts of Fire

5 stars  Incredibly Powerful!!
This was a truly inspirational book. These women of faith show true courage in their convictions and their walk with Christ. Each story is compelling and moves you to challenge your own faith! Reviewer
5 stars  Inspirational
Very few books that I have read have stayed with me like this book. I have read it 3 times. I find that the stories of the women in this book not only show their struggles and victories in Jesus but they continue to inspire me to step out of my comfort zone. I love this book. Reviewer
5 stars  Eye-opening
This is completely eye-opening to several truths. One, how truly blessed we are to live where we can openly worship Christ. Two, how amazing the love these that are persecuted have for our Savior. And three, how we need to be on our knees holding them in prayer. I recommend this for everyone to read. Reviewer
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Who is The Voice of the Martyrs?

The Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization dedicated to assisting our persecuted family worldwide.

Our ministry is based on Hebrews 13:3:
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

The Daily Readings for MONDAY, February 13, 2017

The Old Testament Lesson

The Old Testament Lesson for today is taken from Isaiah 63:1-6

"Who is this that comes from Edom, from Bozrah in garments stained crimson? Who is this so splendidly robed, marching in his great might?" "It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save." "Why are your robes red, and your garments like theirs who tread the wine press?" "I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their juice spattered on my garments, and stained all my robes. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year for my redeeming work had come. I looked, but there was no helper; I stared, but there was no one to sustain me; so my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath sustained me. I trampled down peoples in my anger, I crushed them in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."

This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

The Epistle Lesson

The Epistle Lesson for today is taken from 1 Timothy 1:1-17

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

The Holy Gospel Lesson

The Holy Gospel is written in Mark 11:1-11
Glory be to Thee, O Lord

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'" They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Here ends the Gospel lesson for today.
Glory be to Thee ,O Christ!

Morning Psalms

Psalm 89: Part I Misericordias Domini
1   Your love, O LORD, for ever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2   For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3   I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4   'I will establish your line for ever, and preserve your throne for all generations.'"
5   The heavens bear witness to your wonders, O LORD, and to your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones;
6   For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? who is like the LORD among the gods?
7   God is much to be feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible to all those round about him.
8   Who is like you, LORD God of hosts? O mighty LORD, your faithfulness is all around you.
9   You rule the raging of the sea and still the surging of its waves.
10   You have crushed Rahab of the deep with a deadly wound; you have scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11   Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you laid the foundations of the world and all that is in it.
12   You have made the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your Name.
13   You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand and high is your right hand.
14   Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne; love and truth go before your face.
15   Happy are the people who know the festal shout! they walk, O LORD, in the light of your presence.
16   They rejoice daily in your Name; they are jubilant in your righteousness.
17   For you are the glory of their strength, and by your favor our might is exalted.
18   Truly, the LORD is our ruler; The Holy One of Israel is our King.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 89: Part II Tunc locutus es
19   You spoke once in vision and said to your faithful people: "I have set the crown upon a warrior and have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20   I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him.
21   My hand will hold him fast and my arm will make him strong.
22   No enemy shall deceive him, nor any wicked man bring him down.
23   I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him.
24   My faithfulness and love shall be with him, and he shall be victorious through my Name.
25   I shall make his dominion extend from the Great Sea to the River.
26   He will say to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.'
27   I will make him my firstborn and higher than the kings of the earth.
28   I will keep my love for him for ever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29   I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of heaven."
30   If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my judgments;
31   If they break my statutes and do not keep my commandments;
32   I will punish their transgressions with a rod and their iniquities with the lash;
33   But I will not take my love from him, nor let my faithfulness prove false.
34   I will not break my covenant, nor change what has gone out of my lips.
35   Once for all I have sworn by my holiness: 'I will not lie to David.
36   His line shall endure for ever and his throne as the sun before me;
37   It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon, the abiding witness in the sky.'"
38   But you have cast off and rejected your anointed; you have become enraged at him.
39   You have broken your covenant with your servant, defiled his crown, and hurled it to the ground.
40   You have breached all his walls and laid his strongholds in ruins.
41   All who pass by despoil him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42   You have exalted the right hand of his foes and made all his enemies rejoice.
43   You have turned back the edge of his sword and have not sustained him in battle.
44   You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground.
45   You have cut short the days of his youth and have covered him with shame.
46   How long will you hide yourself, O LORD? will you hide yourself for ever? how long will your anger burn like fire?
47   Remember, LORD, how short life is, how frail you have made all flesh.
48   Who can live and not see death? who can save himself from the power of the grave?
49   Where, Lord, are your loving-kindnesses of old, which you promised David in your faithfulness?
50   Remember, Lord, how your servant is mocked, how I carry in my bosom the taunts of many peoples,
51   The taunts your enemies have hurled, O LORD, which they hurled at the heels of your anointed.
52   Blessed be the LORD for evermore! Amen, I say, Amen.

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 - February 13, 2017

John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Read all of John 3

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Morning Devotions with Cap'n Kenny - "Always Fruitful"

It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
Isaiah 55:11, NLT

I once read that Elvis Presley wore a cross, a Star of David, and other religious medallions around his neck. When someone asked him why he wore all of them, he replied, “Don’t want to miss out on Heaven ’cause of some technicality.”

That was King Nebuchadnezzar. He acknowledged the existence of God. But whenever he was in trouble, he also called out to the sorcerers, astrologers, and magicians. He wanted to have all his bases covered. I think Nebuchadnezzar represents the mindset of many Americans today. They believe everything. And that is the problem.

As the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar once was the most powerful person on earth. He had everything a person could possibly want to be happy. He had seen God at work, and he had been exposed to the truth of God’s Word. Nebuchadnezzar knew what was right. He simply had not acted on it.

Yet one night, something as simple as a dream penetrated this king’s heart and mind. The prophet Daniel, who had been carried away captive to Babylon in his youth, had been faithfully sowing his seeds over the years. But year after year went by, and Nebuchadnezzar persisted in his unbelief. But it wasn’t all in vain.

Maybe you have been talking to someone for years. You have been praying for them. You have been trying to reach them. You’re saying, “This isn’t working. They never will come around.”

It isn’t over till it’s over. I have heard so many stories of people who attended a prayer meeting or a worship service and made a commitment to Christ a day, a week, or a month later. A seed was sown, and that seed broke ground later.

Remember, the harvest is not at the end of a church service; it’s at the end of the age.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Devotion by Greg Laurie © 2016 Harvest Christian Fellowship; all rights reserved.

Un Dia a la Vez - Cuando te roban el gozo

Por tu nombre, Señor, dame vida; por tu justicia, sácame de este aprieto. Salmo 143:11, NVI

¿Cuántas veces te ha sucedido esto? Nos levantamos con alegría y con ánimo. Es más, llevamos un día feliz. Entonces, de repente, ¡pumba! Ya sea tu hijo, tu hija, tu esposo, tu jefe, tu compañero de trabajo o incluso alguien que te cerró el camino cuando manejabas, te daña literalmente el día. Una discusión, una injusticia, un mal comentario de alguien que no esperabas, una reacción diferente de tu pareja. De modo que sientes que se te viene todo abajo y se transforma tu día y también tu actitud.

Esa cara feliz que traíamos cambia en de segundos por una cara amargada, quizá con llanto y ganas de decirle a esa persona unas cuantas cosas. En verdad, no queremos expresar palabras de bendición… Ja, ja, ja.

Sin embargo, es ahí donde debe aparecer la otra parte. ¿Cómo debemos reaccionar ante situaciones tan comunes? No podemos dejar que nada ni nadie nos roben el gozo. No podemos permitir que por un momento de ira hagamos o digamos cosas de las que nos vamos arrepentir después.

Siempre hemos escuchado que, cuando te enojes, cuenta hasta diez, respira profundo y medita en las cosas lindas que ya viviste en el día. ¡Eso es todo! Cada día se presentarán momentos que te llevarán al límite de tu reacción. Lo más importante es que no nos quedemos ahí, en las circunstancias, en la incomodad del momento. Por el contrario, debemos pedirle a Dios que nos dé la calma y la paz para seguir adelante. No nos dejemos robar la alegría. Es un regalo de Dios para nuestras vidas.

La Santa Biblia, Nueva Versión Internacional® NVI® Copyright © 1986, 1999, 2015 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3: 17-18, NIV

Cuba is an island full of color, warmth and smells, yet it is also run down and dilapidated. This island seems to be open, but it is subject to many restrictions. Almost all Cubans experience shortages of literally everything.

Christians can be found throughout Cuba, and shortages are extreme for them. There is a chronic shortage of Bibles and Christian literature. “Every month, we have baptism services and we often have tens and sometimes dozens of new Christians being baptized,” reported a female pastor. “Due to the shortage of Bibles, we do not give people a Bible when they convert. They first have the possibility to enter a ‘Christianity course’ before being baptized. Once people have finished the course and have been baptized, they receive a Bible. This way we have more certainty that the Bible will really be used.”

Christian leadership is lacking in Cuba. “There is a shortage of good, solid Christian leadership in the churches. We don’t have the knowledge and could really use good study material on biblical leadership,” stated a Cuban pastor.

Christians lack places to worship together. One pastor in Cuba said, “We don’t have our own building and our houses are too small to meet in. Every Sunday we use all the means of transport that we can find to go out into the countryside. There we're less conspicuous and we can hold an open-air service. But if it’s raining or too windy, it has to be called off. That’s a pity, because we like meeting together so much.”

Another pastor said, “We don’t get permission to build new churches or church buildings. Only the church buildings that have been here before 1959 are officially registered as church buildings. Since then, it has not been possible to obtain permits for new church buildings.”

When a pastor was asked what his greatest wish is, he replied, “To conquer the city for Jesus Christ!” This is the dream of many Cuban Christians, who show their resiliency in the midst of restrictions. Are there too few Bibles? Then they simply share Bibles with each other and copy out Bible texts. Is it prohibited to proclaim God’s Word outside your church building? Then they make sure that the music and the words of the psalms and hymns are heard through the open windows of the building. When the police drive them away while evangelizing on the street, then they carry on somewhere else tomorrow. The scripture above is sung as a favorite hymn.

Cuban Christians see the restrictions as a challenge. They have the courage to dream. They stand up for their faith. In this way, the Word is heard and the Church in Cuba is growing.

RESPONSE: Today I will follow the example of Cuban Christians and rejoice in Jesus and serve Him faithfully even when the necessities and comforts of life are absent.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to be so dependent on You that I can sing the closing song of Habakkuk too.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Women of the Bible - Tamar, Daughter-in-Law of Judah

Her name means: "Date Tree" or "Palm Tree"

Her character: Driven by one overwhelming need, she sacrificed her reputation and nearly her life to achieve her goals.
Her sorrow: That the men in her life failed to fulfill their responsibility, leaving her a childless widow.
Her joy: That her daring behavior resulted, not in ruin, but in the fulfillment of her hopes to bear children.
Key Scriptures: Genesis 38; Matthew 1:3 

Her Story

Genealogies hardly make compelling reading at bedtime—or at any other time, for that matter. Perhaps you welcome them with a yawn, or skip over them entirely as you read through the Bible. But even long lists of bewildering names can reveal interesting insights into God's mysterious plan. That's the way the Scriptures work, yielding hidden riches on every page.

Take the genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew, for instance. It lists a grand total of forty-one male ancestors of Jesus, beginning with Abraham, and a mere five female ancestors, three of whose stories (those of Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba) are colored by such distasteful details as incest, prostitution, fornication, adultery, and murder.

Jesus, the perfect Son of the perfect Father, had plenty of imperfect branches in his family tree and enough colorful characters to populate a modern romance novel. That women should be mentioned at all in his genealogy is surprising, let alone that four of the five got pregnant out of wedlock. In addition, at least three of the women were foreigners, not Israelites.

Tamar fell into both categories. Her father-in-law, Judah (son of Jacob and Leah), had arranged for her to marry his firstborn, Er. Half Canaanite and half Hebrew, Er was a wicked man, whom God killed for his sins. That's all we know of him.

After Er came Onan, Judah's second son. As was the custom of the time, Judah gave Onan to the widowed Tamar, instructing him to sleep with her so that she could have children to carry on Er's line. But Onan was far too crafty for his own good. He slept with Tamar, but then "spilled his semen on the ground," thus ensuring Tamar's barrenness. That way he would not be saddled with the responsibility for children who would carry on his brother's line rather than his own. But God took note, and Onan, too, died for his wickedness.

Already Judah had lost two sons to Tamar. Should he risk a third? Shelah was his only remaining son, not yet fully grown. To placate his daughter-in-law, Judah instructed Tamar to return to her father's house and live as a widow until Shelah was of marriageable age. But time passed like a sluggish river, and Tamar continued to wear her widow's garments as Selah grew up.

After Judah's wife died, he set out one day for Timnah to shear his sheep. Hearing the news of her father-in-law's journey, Tamar decided to take desperate and dramatic action. If Judah would not give her his youngest son in marriage, she would do her best to propagate the family name in her own way. Shedding her widow's black, she disguised herself in a veil, impersonating a prostitute, and sat down beside the road to Timnah. Judah slept with her and gave her his personal seal and cord along with his staff in pledge of future payment.

About three months later, Judah learned that Tamar was pregnant, little realizing he was responsible for her condition. Outraged that she had prostituted herself, he ordered her burned to death. But before the sentence could be carried out, Tamar sent him a stunning message: "I am pregnant by the man who owns these. See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are."

The man who had so quickly passed judgment, little heeding his own secret tryst with a prostitute, was suddenly taken up short. To his credit, he told the truth, saying, "She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn't give her to my son Shelah."

Six months later, Tamar gave birth to twins. Once again, as with Jacob and Esau, the children struggled in her womb. A tiny hand came out and then disappeared, but not before being tied with a scarlet thread by the midwife. Then a small, slippery body emerged, but with no trace of the red thread. They named the first boy Perez (meaning "Breaking Out"). Then the little one with the scarlet ribbon was born and they named him Zerah (meaning "Scarlet"). Perez was recognized as the firstborn. From his line would come King David and finally, hundreds of years later, Jesus of Nazareth.

Judah had shown little concern regarding the continuance of his line. Instead, God used a woman, shamed by her own barrenness and determined to overcome it, to ensure that the tribe of Judah would not only survive but that it would one day bear the world's Messiah.

Her Promise

The story in Genesis 38 reveals nothing about Tamar's knowledge of God's hand in the events of her life. More than likely, she was totally unaware of the power of God at work. But he was at work nevertheless, bringing good out of tragedy and blessing out of less than honorable events.

That's the beauty of this story. God's power to bring positive things from the negative, even sinful, events of our lives is just as much at work now as in Tamar's day. We may not see it today or tomorrow—or perhaps ever—but we can trust the God we love to do what he loves: bring blessing to us in spite of ourselves.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

Girlfriends in God - I Want to Hold Your Hand

Today’s Truth

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)

Friend to Friend

When our kids were little my husband Brad and I used to hold their hands a lot. Sometimes it was to protect them from danger, like if we were crossing a street. Sometimes it was to calm fears or to help them to feel secure. Sometimes it was because we were on a mission to get through or to a place quickly. Other times it was for the simple pleasure of strolling, skipping, and smiling together.

Now that they’re teens, my kids aren’t so keen on holding hands with mom and dad anymore. Sigh. There is still the occasional watching-a-movie-on-the-couch-at-home handhold, but it’s a rarity. And I miss it.

I love locking fingers with my people. There’s a beauty and intimacy to it. A tangible connection that binds our skin and braids our souls. I love walking with them, hearing their hearts, talking through tight spots, giving advice, laughing and enjoying their company.

Similarly, our heavenly Father finds pleasure when you and I walk with Him. When we take His hand and share our time, trials, treasures, and thoughts.

The prophet Micah spoke to this. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

This is a simple, yet profound summary of God’s desire for us. A revealing of His longing for you and me to live in constant communion with Him. To lace our fingers with His in good, bad, scary, and sad times. Whether the sun is high in the sky or thunder rumbles low in our hearts.

Let’s break that verse down a bit.

In order to act justly I have to behave in a way that God considers just - not the ways that the world considers just. My righteousness (my salvation) was made complete through the sacrifice of Jesus, but my willingness to walk in His righteousness is a choice I have to make each day. I get to choose whether I will do things my way or yield to the Holy Spirit within me and move as He leads. When I pray and invite the Lord into my day, it’s like reaching for His hand and asking God to lead me in His ways.

Mercy is God’s kindness to NOT punish our sins as we deserve. It is His restraint from condemning His children (all who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord.) If it weren’t for the mercy of God all hope would be crushed! Instead, hope is vibrant in grace. We can live responsively to His mercy (love mercy) by being grateful women … women who thank God each morning for a clean slate. We love mercy when we forgive others as we have been forgiven. When we do not condemn others as we might think they deserve.

I love how the Bible describes the relationship between God and Enoch.

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:24) What in the world? I don’t know what set Enoch’s relationship with God apart so much that God just had to snatch him from earth, but my glory - I want me some of that! Don’t you?

And look what was written about Enoch’s arc-building great grandson, Noah. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

They walked faithfully with God.

My prayer today is that God would consider me a woman who walks faithfully with Him.

I don’t want to be the girl who only reaches for His hand when the road is bumpy, when my checkbook is empty, or when my feet are stumbly. And I don't want to be like the teenager who is embarrassed by her dad and only gives him attention in private or on occasion. I want to live with the faith of a child who acts justly, loves mercy, and daily takes the hand of her Father to face each moment, mountain, and memory right by His side.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, Please teach me what it looks like to walk faithfully with You. Show me what it looks like to act justly. Convict me when I don't. Help me to love mercy and to give it as freely as I take it. I want to hold Your hand.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Colossians 3:1-17 to see some practical ways you can live out Micah 6:8. Then swing over to my blog and leave a comment telling me which of the verses challenge you the most today.

More from the Girlfriends

FREE EBOOK: Gwen Smith is a speaker, worship leader, songwriter, and author of the new book, I Want I ALL, which includes a Bible Study Guide right in the back of the book; no extra purchase required. I WANT IT ALL it’s easy to read yet contains compelling and challenging content. You'll connect with the stories, probably dust off a few heart dreams, think bigger thoughts of God, laugh and smile a lot, search your soul, and even cry a little ... because each page lovingly directs you to the personal grace and truth of JESUS. (CLICK HERE to get a FREE Downloadable “7 Day I WANT IT ALL” Devotional Ebook.)

Seeking God?
Click HERE to find out more about how to have a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.

LHM Daily Devotion - "Choose Life? Yes, and really get to living!"

February 13, 2017

"This day ..." (Moses says) "I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him ...."   Deuteronomy 30:18a, 19-20a, ESV

Valentine's Day is almost here. It's a day to choose love, if you will. It's a day when we try to put our best efforts into showing our wives, our girlfriends, our boyfriends, and husbands that yes, "You are the most important person in our lives!" It has become the focal point of romance in our culture. It's a time of cards and flowers and lavish dinners, all in service of love, well, at least, romantic love. 

But, what you may not know is that originally Valentine's Day was a Christian festival celebrating the loving leadership of several Christian bishops named, you guessed it: Valentine. You see, in the first few centuries of the Christian church, it was dangerous to be a believer in Jesus. And it was even more dangerous to be a leader, a pastor, a bishop in the Christian church. The feast of St. Valentine celebrated the loving, even protecting, leadership of people who gave their lives so that others might know the love of Jesus Christ and be protected from government persecution. It was more than a day of human love; it was a day of Christ's love shown in the lives of those who sacrificed for others so that they too might live!

That's what we were focusing on in the sermon yesterday. Because of our sinfulness, our natural selfishness, we do not have a natural reservoir of love and kindness stored up in us, ready to spring forth when the going gets tough. The fact of our  fallenness  is that you and I ultimately can't show love, and we can't choose life on our own terms. No, but here's some very good news. We can love because we have first been loved by God in Jesus Christ. We can bless because He blesses us. We can forgive because He forgives us. In fact, we can  choose life  because Jesus chose to be our Savior first. He came before we asked. He stepped into our world as the Friend of sinners. Remember the Bible verse: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8b). That's life; that's love.

So in the midst of the roses and candy and candlelight, remember the Rose of Sharon, the sweetness of our Savior, Jesus, the Light of the world. He makes love and life possible, even for those of us who can't seem to get the romance stuff right. And remember, Jesus came to give you and me life so that we can really get to living. Enjoy sharing that perspective on life and love with those you love. And put the love and grace and peace and joy of Jesus to work by blessing others with the blessings He has given you to share. That's a St. Valentine's Day that makes all Valentines worth it.

THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You came to give us life so that we could not only receive it, but share it. Give us a St. Valentine's courage to live for You as we love others. And remind us to never forget that we can love others because You have loved us. We can serve others because You incredibly serve us. And we can celebrate the fullness of the life You have given us by grace, as we love those in our lives. In Your Name! Amen!

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin!  Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

CPTLN Devocional - Ojos y corazón abiertos

13 de Febrero 2017
No se ofuscarán los ojos de los que ven; los oídos de los que oyen escucharán con atención. Isaías 32:3, RVC

¿Alguna vez se ha preguntado por qué algunas personas tienen éxito y otras fracasan?

Quizás sea porque quienes tienen éxito ven cosas que los demás no ven.

Un naturalista hizo un experimento en la Provincia del Labrador, Canadá, y notó que, cuando la carne se congelaba a 40 grados bajo cero, tenía mejor gusto que cuando se congelaba lentamente. Cuando regresó a su casa, experimentó de congelar rápidamente distintos tipos de alimentos. Eventualmente comenzó a hacer de esto un negocio.

Su nombre era Clarence Birdseye (marca de productos congelados muy conocida en este país). En 1929 vendió su negocio por 22 millones de dólares.

Me pregunto cuántas oportunidades he perdido por no tener los ojos abiertos. ¿Será que podría haber sido rico y famoso? Probablemente no. El Señor sabe que no estoy hecho para ese tipo de cosas, y, además, casi siempre estoy contento con lo que él me da.

Sin embargo, el Espíritu Santo me ha abierto los ojos para que vea algo... a la única persona que necesito ver: Jesús. Jesús vale mucho más de lo que valía la compañía Birdseye en 1929. El sufrimiento, sacrificio y resurrección de Jesús me da una riqueza que no puede ser comprada ni vendida, una riqueza que nunca se va a echar a perder.

Es mi oración que usted también tenga esa riqueza. Si es así, le pido que ore por alguien que todavía no tiene a Jesús como el Señor de su vida. Mantenga sus ojos y su corazón abiertos para dar testimonio a quienes están a su alrededor.

Después de todo, el Señor quiere que todo vean a Jesús.

ORACIÓN: Querido Señor, mantén mis ojos abiertos para que pueda ver el amor que muestras en Jesús. Ayúdame a ser un testigo que refleje ese amor a quienes me rodean. Recuérdame que la salvación a través de la fe en Cristo es un regalo que nunca se va a echar a perder y que nadie me podrá robar. En el nombre del Salvador. Amén.

De una devoción escrita originalmente para "By the Way"

© Copyright 2017 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones. Reina Valera Contemporánea (RVC) Copyright © 2009, 2011 by Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas.

Our Daily Bread - The Death of Doubt

Read: John 11:1–16 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 14; Matthew 26:51–75

Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. John 20:25

We know him as Doubting Thomas (see John 20:24–29), but the label isn’t entirely fair. After all, how many of us would have believed that our executed leader had been resurrected? We might just as well call him “Courageous Thomas.” After all, Thomas displayed impressive courage as Jesus moved purposefully into the events leading to His death.

At the death of Lazarus, Jesus had said, “Let us go back to Judea” (John 11:7), prompting a protest from the disciples. “Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” (v. 8). It was Thomas who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (v. 16).

Thomas’s intentions proved nobler than his actions. Upon Jesus’s arrest, Thomas fled with the rest (Matt. 26:56), leaving Peter and John to accompany Christ to the courtyard of the high priest. Only John followed Jesus all the way to the cross.

Despite having witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:38–44), Thomas still could not bring himself to believe that the crucified Lord had conquered death. Not until Thomas the doubter—the human—saw the risen Lord, could he exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus’s response gave assurance to the doubter and immeasurable comfort to us: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29).

Father, teach us to act on what we do know about You and Your goodness, and trust You in faith for what we don’t know.

Real doubt searches for the light; unbelief is content with the darkness.

© 2017 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Lời Sống Hằng Ngày - Chết Vì Ngờ Vực

Đọc: Giăng 11:1-16 | Đọc Kinh Thánh suốt năm: Lê-vi ký 14; Ma-thi-ơ 26:51-75

Nếu tôi không thấy dấu đinh trong bàn tay Ngài, nếu tôi không đặt ngón tay tôi vào chỗ dấu đinh, và không đặt bàn tay tôi vào sườn Ngài thì tôi sẽ không tin. (Giăng 20:25)

Chúng ta biết đến ông với tên gọi là Thô-ma Nghi ngờ (Xem Giăng 20:24-29), nhưng biệt danh đó không hoàn toàn công bằng với ông. Nếu là ông, có bao nhiêu người trong chúng ta tin vị lãnh đạo bị xử tử của mình đã sống lại? Có lẽ chúng ta nên gọi ông là “Thô-ma Can đảm” hơn. Xét cho cùng thì Thô-ma đã bày tỏ sự can đảm đầy ấn tượng khi Chúa Jêsus cố ý bước vào chuỗi sự kiện dẫn Ngài đến cái chết.

Sau cái chết của La-xa-rơ, Chúa Jêsus đã nói: “Chúng ta hãy trở về miền Giu-đê” (Giăng 11:7), điều này khiến các môn đồ Ngài phản đối. Họ nói: “Thưa Thầy, người Do Thái đang tìm ném đá Thầy mà sao bây giờ Thầy còn trở lại nơi ấy?” (c.8). Chính Thô-ma là người nói: “Chúng ta hãy đi đến đó cùng chết với Ngài” (c. 16).

Ý định của Thô-ma cao cả hơn hành động của ông. Khi Chúa Jêsus bị bắt, Thô-ma đã trốn chạy cùng với tất cả các môn đồ khác (Mat. 26:56), để mặc Phi-e-rơ và Giăng theo Chúa Jêsus đến sân của thầy cả thượng phẩm. Chỉ mình Giăng theo Chúa Jêsus đến tận thập tự giá.

Dù đã chứng kiến sự sống lại của La-xa-rơ (Giăng 11:38-44), nhưng Thô-ma vẫn không thể giúp chính mình tin rằng Đấng bị đóng đinh đã chiến thắng sự chết. Mãi cho đến khi Thô-ma nghi-ngờ, Thô-ma-rất-con-người đó thấy Đấng phục sinh, ông mới kêu lên: “Lạy Chúa của con và Đức Chúa Trời con!” (Giăng 20:28). Lời của Chúa Jêsus đem lại sự đảm bảo cho con người nghi ngờ đó và đem lại sự an ủi lớn lao cho chúng ta: “Có phải vì thấy Ta nên con tin chăng? Phước cho những người không thấy mà tin!” (c.29).

Lạy Cha, xin dạy chúng con làm theo những gì chúng con biết về Ngài và sự nhân từ của Ngài, và tin cậy Ngài trước những gì chúng con không biết bằng đức tin của mình.

Nghi ngờ thật tìm kiếm ánh sáng, còn sự vô tín lại thỏa lòng với bóng tối.

© 2017 Lời Sống Hằng Ngày

Nuestro Pan Diario - La muerte de la duda

Leer: Juan 11:1-16 | La Biblia en un año: Mateo 26:51-75

… Si no viere […], no creeré (Juan 20:25).

Catalogar a Tomás como «el discípulo que dudó» (ver Juan 20:24-29) no es justo. ¿Cuántos habríamos creído que nuestro ejecutado líder había resucitado? Deberíamos llamarlo «Tomás el valiente», ya que demostró un coraje impresionante mientras Jesús disponía intencionalmente los hechos que llevarían a su muerte.

Cuando murió Lázaro, Jesús había dicho: «Vamos a Judea otra vez» (Juan 11:7). Aunque los demás discípulos intentaron persuadirlo de no volver allí —«Rabí, ahora procuraban los judíos apedrearte, ¿y otra vez vas allá?» (v. 8)—, Tomás declaró: «Vamos también nosotros, para que muramos con él» (v. 16).

Las intenciones de Tomás eran más nobles que sus acciones. Cuando arrestaron a Jesús, huyó con el resto de los discípulos (Mateo 26:56) y dejó que solo Pedro y Juan acompañaran al Señor ante el sumo sacerdote.

Aunque había sido testigo de la resurrección de Lázaro (Juan 11:38-44), no podía creer que el Señor crucificado hubiera conquistado la muerte. Solamente al verlo resucitado, pudo exclamar: «¡Señor mío, y Dios mío!» (Juan 20:28). La respuesta que quitó las dudas de Tomás es inmensurablemente consoladora para nosotros: «Porque me has visto, Tomás, creíste; bienaventurados los que no vieron, y creyeron» (v. 29).

Señor, ayúdame a no dudar de tu bondad.

La duda sincera busca la luz; la incredulidad se conforma con la oscuridad.

Unser Täglich Brot - Tod dem Zweifel

Lesen: Johannes 11,1-16 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: 3.Mose 14; Matthäus 26,51-75

Wenn ich nicht in seinen Händen die Nägelmale sehe und meinen Finger in die Nägelmale lege und meine Hand in seine Seite lege, kann ich’s nicht glauben. Johannes 20,25

Wir kennen ihn als Thomas, den Zweifler (siehe Joh. 20,24-29), aber die Bezeichnung ist nicht ganz fair. Wer von uns hätte denn wirklich geglaubt, dass unser hingerichteter Führer auferstehen würde? Wir können ihn genauso gut den „mutigen Thomas“ nennen. Schließlich hatte er beachtlichen Mut gezeigt, als Jesus sich ganz bewusst auf den Weg begab, der zu seinem Tod führen würde.

Als Lazarus starb, sagte Jesus: „Lasst uns wieder nach Judäa ziehen!“ (Joh.11,7). Die Jünger protestierten. „Meister“, sagten sie, „eben noch wollten die Juden dich steinigen, und du willst wieder dorthin ziehen?“ (V.8). Nur Thomas sagte: „Lasst uns mit ihm gehen, dass wir mit ihm sterben“ (V.16).

Thomas‘ Absichten waren edler als sein Verhalten. Als Jesus gefangen genommen wurde, floh er genauso wie alle anderen (Matth. 26,56). Nur Petrus und Johannes folgten Jesus in den Hof des Hohenpriesters. Und nur Johannes folgte ihm bis zum Kreuz.

Und obwohl Thomas die Auferstehung des Lazarus miterlebt hatte (Joh. 11,38-44), konnte er nicht glauben, dass der gekreuzigte Herr den Tod besiegt hatte. Erst als Thomas, der Zweifler, den auferstandenen Herrn sah, konnte er sagen: „Mein Herr und mein Gott!“ (Joh. 20,28). Jesu Antwort schenkte dem Zweifler Gewissheit und uns unermesslichen Trost: „Weil du mich gesehen hast, darum glaubst du. Selig sind, die nicht sehen und doch glauben!“ (V.29).

Vater, lehre uns, nach dem zu leben, was wir von dir und deiner Güte wissen, und dir im Blick auf alles, was wir nicht wissen, im Glauben zu vertrauen.

Echter Zweifel sucht das Licht. Unglaube begnügt sich mit der Finsternis.

© 2017 Unser Täglich Brot

Notre Pain Quotidien - La mort du doute

Lisez : Jean 11.1‑16 | La Bible en un an : Lévitique 14 et Matthieu 26.51-75

Si je ne vois dans ses mains la marquedes clous, et si je ne mets mon doigt dans la marque des clous, et si je ne mets ma main dans son côté, je ne croirai point. (Jean 20.25)

Bien que nous le connaissions sous le nom de Thomas l’incrédule (Voir JN 20.24‑29), cette étiquette est un peu exagérée. Après tout, combien d’entre nous auraient cru que leur chef exécuté était revenu à la vie ? Autant l’appeler tout simplement « Thomas le courageux ». Après tout, il a manifesté un courage impressionnant lorsque Jésus s’est rapproché de plus en plus des événements qui allaient le conduire à son exécution.

À la mort de Lazare, les disciples lui avaient dit : « Rabbi, les Juifs tout récemment cherchaient à te lapider, et tu retournes en Judée ! » (JN 11.8), et Thomas avait répliqué : « Allons aussi, afin de mourir avec lui » (V. 16).

Les intentions de Thomas étaient plus nobles que ses actions, car, lors de l’arrestation de Jésus, il a pris la fuite avec les autres (MT 26.56), laissant à Pierre et à Jean le soin d’accompagner Christ jusque dans la cour du souverain sacrificateur. Seul Jean a suivi Jésus jusqu’à la croix.

Même s’il avait été le témoin de la résurrection de Lazare (JN 11.38‑44), Thomas ne parvenait toujours pas à se convaincre que le Seigneur crucifié avait triomphé de la mort. Ce n’est que lorsque Thomas l’incrédule – l’être humain – a vu le Seigneur ressuscité qu’il a pu s’exclamer : « Mon Seigneur et mon Dieu ! » (JN 20.28.) La réponse de Jésus a procuré de l’assurance à cet incrédule et une consolation incommensurable à nous : « Parce que tu m’as vu, tu as cru. Heureux ceux qui n’ont pas vu, et qui ont cru ! » (V. 29.)

Le vrai doute cherche la lumière, le faux se contente des ténèbres.