Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, March 18, 2017

The Old Testament Lesson

The Old Testament Lesson for today is taken from Jeremiah 5:20-31

Declare this in the house of Jacob, proclaim it in Judah: Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who have ears, but do not hear. Do you not fear me? says the LORD; Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail, though they roar, they cannot pass over it. But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, "Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest." Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have deprived you of good. For scoundrels are found among my people; they take over the goods of others. Like fowlers they set a trap; they catch human beings. Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of treachery; therefore they have become great and rich, they have grown fat and sleek. They know no limits in deeds of wickedness; they do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. Shall I not punish them for these things? says the LORD, and shall I not bring retribution on a nation such as this? An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule as the prophets direct; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?

This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God!

The Epistle Lesson

The Epistle Lesson for today is taken from Romans 3:19-31

Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God!

The Holy Gospel Lesson

The Holy Gospel is written in John 7:1-13
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." (For not even his brothers believed in him.) Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come." After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, "Where is he?" And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, "He is a good man," others were saying, "No, he is deceiving the crowd." Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.

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

Morning Psalms

Psalm 75 Confitebimur tibi
1   We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks, calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds.
2   I will appoint a time, says God; I will judge with equity.
3   Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking, I will make its pillars fast.
4   I will say to the boasters, 'Boast no more, ' and to the wicked, 'Do not toss your horns;
5   Do not toss your horns so high, nor speak with a proud neck.'"
6   For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west, nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains.
7   It is God who judges; he puts down one and lifts up another.
8   For in the LORD'S hand there is a cup, full of spiced and foaming wine, which he pours out, and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and drain the dregs.
9   But I will rejoice for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10   He shall break off all the horns of the wicked; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Psalm 76 Notus in Judæa
1   In Judah is God known; his Name is great in Israel.
2   At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling is in Zion.
3   There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of battle.
4   How glorious you are! more splendid than the everlasting mountains!
5   The strong of heart have been despoiled; they sink into sleep; none of the warriors can lift a hand.
6   At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and rider lie stunned.
7   What terror you inspire! who can stand before you when you are angry?
8   From heaven you pronounced judgment; the earth was afraid and was still;
9   When God rose up to judgment and to save all the oppressed of the earth.
10   Truly, wrathful Edom will give you thanks, and the remnant of Hamath will keep your feasts.
11   Make a vow to the LORD your God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared.
12   He breaks the spirit of princes, and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 23 Dominus regit me
1   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
2   He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
3   He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
4   Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5   You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6   Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 27 Dominus illuminatio
1   The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?
2   When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh, it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who stumbled and fell.
3   Though an army should encamp against me, yet my heart shall not be afraid;
4   And though war should rise up against me, yet will I put my trust in him.
5   One thing have I asked of the LORD; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;
6   To behold the fair beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
7   For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling and set me high upon a rock.
8   Even now he lifts up my head above my enemies round about me.
9   Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation with sounds of great gladness; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
10   Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
11   You speak in my heart and say, "Seek my face." Your face, LORD, will I seek.
12   Hide not your face from me, nor turn away your servant in displeasure.
13   You have been my helper; cast me not away; do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.
14   Though my father and my mother forsake me, the LORD will sustain me.
15   Show me your way, O LORD; lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.
16   Deliver me not into the hand of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and also those who speak malice.
17   What if I had not believed that I should see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
18   O tarry and await the LORD'S pleasure; be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the LORD.

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 - March 18, 2017

Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Read all of Romans 15

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 - What Suffering Reveals

Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?"
Job 1:8 (NKJV)

Most of us can accept the idea of suffering in general, especially when it comes as a consequence of bad behavior. We don't have a problem with that.

What we do have a problem with is when bad things happen to people who are godly. It is not suffering that troubles us; it is undeserved suffering.

Job was not doing wrong; he was doing right. In fact, he was doing so well spiritually that God actually was bragging on him up in Heaven. Then one day, without warning, the bottom dropped out. The problem for poor Job was that he had never read the book of Job. He lived it in real time. And all he knew was that one day he woke up, and everything bad that could happen happened—and then even more bad things happened.

Sometimes God will use the worst to accomplish the best. It is then that we must trust Him. When the worst thing imaginable happened to Job, he fell down on his knees and said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord " (Job 1:21).

We admire that, and we should. If you have faith, your faith will get stronger when things get harder. If your faith doesn't get stronger, then I wonder what kind of faith you have. A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. If your faith cannot survive adversity, then your faith isn't real. It is through adversity that real faith grows stronger.

Job showed that he really was everything God said he was: a man of integrity, a man whom God could brag on. When the worst things happened, he stood tall.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Devotion by Greg Laurie © 2017 Harvest Christian Fellowship; all rights reserved.

Un Dia a la Vez - Hay esperanza

Y ahora, Señor, ¿qué esperanza me queda? ¡Mi esperanza he puesto en ti!
Salmo 39:7 (NVI)

Tal como le sucedió a Fredy, nuestro amigo del devocional de ayer, la vida lo sorprendió. De un día para otro, cambió su vida. Por robarlo recibió ese disparo que le cambió su condición física. Y a lo mejor esto te pasó a ti. Tienes una condición similar y quizá se deba a un accidente, una enfermedad o una incapacidad de nacimiento que cambió tu vida por completo.

¿Estamos preparados para afrontarlo? ¿Cómo sería nuestra reacción emocional? En la mayoría de los casos, estas grandes calamidades nos hacen más sensibles, nos motivan a buscar más de Dios, a pedirle ayuda y, por qué no, un milagro.

Por alguna razón que no tengo respuesta, Dios en algunos casos obra con milagros impresionantes. Sin embargo, en otra gran cantidad de ocasiones no hay sanidad física.

Conozco casos cercanos, incluso en mi familia, donde he podido ver que Dios ha dejado seres muy queridos para mí con sus limitaciones. A pesar de eso, sé también que no es casualidad que esas personitas a quienes quiero tanto Dios las haya levantando en lo espiritual de una manera única y hoy en día son grandes líderes. Su fe y sus testimonios han acercado a más de uno a los pies de Cristo.

A decir verdad, siempre hay esperanza. No sé cuál sea tu limitación, ni cuál fue esa situación que cambió tu vida para siempre, pero recuerda que Dios tiene un propósito con tu vida y serás de apoyo para otros que viven, o vivirán, lo mismo que tú y podrás ayudarles al testificarles del amor de Dios.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón. 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 - GOD KNOWS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO LOSE A CHILD

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Young Nam left his family behind in North Korea to search for money and food in China. Christians there helped him but on the way back he bumped into a North Korean patrol, and he was arrested on the spot. A prison official let Young Nam go after taking away all his money. Young Nam fled again to China, only to be arrested by Chinese policemen. And now he was back in the same prison with the same official who took a bat which was wrapped in newspaper. After Young Nam had taken the beating, the guards dragged him back to an overcrowded cell.

He convinced the prison official that he was not going to betray him and was released a second time. If he wanted to survive, the only option was to go back to China and stay there. He was able to secure a job working in the kitchen of a Beijing restaurant. There he met Eun Kyung who also came to work in the kitchen. Her husband had died in North Korea. Her sweet daughter died in her arms and her son was put in an orphanage. She and a bunch of other women were locked up in a house and sold into marriage to Chinese men.

Eun Kyung protested. “I have just lost my husband. Don’t force me to marry someone!” The human traffickers listened to her and placed her on a Chinese farm, where she had to work for room and board, but the family treated her very well. She ultimately came to Beijing and met Young Nam. There was chemistry between them. They took some secret Bible study classes together and they married, also in secret of course. After a while, the situation in Beijing became too tense for North Korean refugees, and the restaurant boss arranged false passports and put Young Nam and Eun Kyung on a plane to another country.

Now, Young Nam and Eun Kyung live in small apartment far away from their home country. There is little that reminds them of their painful past, unless it’s the eyes of their baby. Inevitably the eyes look similar to the eyes of the child she left behind in that wretched country with its love-wrecking system. Eun Kyung holds her few-months-old son tightly. The child is tense. Eun Kyung doesn’t seem to notice. She will protect this precious child with her life.

After their escape from China, Young Nam and Eun Kyung really got to know God by studying the Bible with a local pastor. They realized it was God who protected them. “God saved us, brought us together and gave us another child. We are very grateful for his love.”

Young Nam and Eun Kyung look to their son. For them, the child is a symbol of God’s hope and love. They know that God will not undo the past. However, God promises us that all tears will be wiped from our faces. That’s possible because the Son of God, out of love, let Himself be crucified. God Himself carried our pain. He knows what it is like to lose a child.

They conclude, “No matter what happened to us, we trust in God. We know that He is love.”

RESPONSE: Today I will forget the past, rejoice in God’s love and be thankful for all His gifts of life.

PRAYER: Thank You God that You can feel the pain of those who have lost a child. May Your love envelop them today and wipe the tears from their faces.

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

NIV Devotions for Couples - Coming to Terms With the Past

Jeremiah 33:1–26

“I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
Jeremiah 33:6

A pastor friend told the story of a couple who had come to him for counseling. The couple had been married 40 or so years, and they were both plagued with guilt. They hadn’t become Christians until their later years, and, prior to that, they had both lived sexually immoral lives. Although they had been faithful to each other during their marriage, their past dips into immorality were now making them feel guilty for enjoying sex with each other.

The pastor thought for a moment, then asked the couple to name their favorite hymn. They both said at the same time, “It Is Well With My Soul.” So the pastor told them to go home and either listen to or sing the hymn every night before they went to bed.

A week later the couple returned to the pastor’s office. They told him that they had felt foolish at first, but they had sung their favorite hymn together each night. The wife blushed and the husband got teary eyed as he told the pastor, “When we got to the part that says, ‘My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O, my soul!’ well… after all these years we feel fresh and squeaky clean and new all over again.”

Throughout the Bible, God’s relationship with Israel was tested over and over by Israel’s sin. The book of Jeremiah talks about the horrible result of that sin. When the prophet received the prophecy recorded in chapter 33, Jerusalem was under siege from the invading Babylonians. Soon God would allow his people to be carried away from their land into captivity and their land to be destroyed. Like the couple who wrestled with memories of past sins, the Israelites would live with heartrending images of how their unfaithfulness to God had resulted in the burning and pillaging of their land. Their city would be filled with dead bodies.

But the story doesn’t end there. The prophet went on to say that because of God’s immense love, God would heal Israel’s pain, cleanse the people from their sin, and restore them to abundant peace and security. “Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it,” God said (Jeremiah 33:9).

Likewise, God does not want us to be forever burdened with our past sins. “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” says Romans 6:18. And Romans 6:4 promises, “We were therefore buried with him . . . in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

So too is the promise for our marriages, which so often bend under the load of sins, both past and present. We must be honest with ourselves, with the Lord and with each other about memories or habits or activities that may be eroding our relationship and then deal with them. But we can do so in the joy of knowing that in Christ we can find forgiveness, restoration and a new start.

Nancy Kennedy

Let’s Talk
  • What are some things from the past that each of us is still struggling with?
  • How are they affecting our marriage?
  • How can we talk about those struggles in a way that builds up our marriage?

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