Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Daily Readings for SUNDAY, October 1, 2017


Ezekiel 18:1-4, 18:25-32
The word of the LORD came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, "The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge"? As I live, says the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die. Yet you say, "The way of the Lord is unfair." Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, "The way of the Lord is unfair." O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord GOD. Turn, then, and live.

Psalm 25:1-8
1   To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you; let me not be humiliated, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
2   Let none who look to you be put to shame; let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
3   Show me your ways, O LORD, and teach me your paths.
4   Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
5   Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.
6   Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; remember me according to your love and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.
7   Gracious and upright is the LORD; therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
8   He guides the humble in doing right and teaches his way to the lowly.

Philippians 2:1-13
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Matthew 21:23-32
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. "What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, 'I will not' but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

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.

"By Whose Authority" - Sermon for SUNDAY, October 1, 2017 - 17 Sunday after Pentecost


When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. "What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, 'I will not' but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
~ Matthew 21:23-32


"By Whose Authority"
by Howard Gunter
Community Family Fellowship
Jacksonville, FL

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

This reading mirrors the attitude of many church leaders, from the pastor on down. We all want to stand on our own authority - be it traditional, denominational or delineated by church by-laws. As we read and study what’s going on here, we may just see some reflections.

In the reading the priests, scribes and elders of the temple – (ahem! – pastor and church board) are uncomfortable with Jesus exercising authority that directs the people to change their religious practice in the temple. The big issue is that Jesus has just cleansed the temple of money changers and practices that serve man and not God.

If changes are to be made, let the authority of the church make the changes - again the Sanhedrin, priests and elders. That would be their attitude. Besides who has the audacity to question their authority.

So, they have some committee meetings and discussions as to how they should address this issue. I would love to have been a fly on that wall, if for no other reason to see a bunch of self-centered men with all kinds of personal agenda coming to a unanimous agreement. Imagine that, they all appear to be on the same page. Let’s back this Jesus into a corner and when He cannot explain Himself and His authority, that will be His doom. It appears that they were all in agreement.

So, they gathered around Jesus and asked Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” (v 23)

Jesus immediately answered them and said that He would answer their question if they would answer His question, “The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (v 24)

Well that just threw them into a frenzy. If they agreed it was from heaven, He will ask why they didn’t believe him. If the said from men, they were afraid the multitudes would turn on them because they all saw John as a prophet.

That left them no choice but to say that they did not know. To which Jesus responded, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (V 27)

Jesus knew exactly what He was doing in bringing the matter to a stalemate. Certainly, the Sanhedrin could drive Jesus out and destroy His ministry but there would be this lingering issue: Jesus offered redemption if they would but believe. Until they had a better handle on this salvation and eternal life, they weren’t ready to be hasty.

And so, Jesus continues on in His ministry, for now.

Next, our reading presents us with another parable as presented to the priests, scribes and elders. A father of two sons approaches the first son and tells him to go out and work in the vineyard. But the son refuses, Later, he regrets his disobedient attitude and goes on out in the vineyard and puts in a day’s work.

In the meantime, the father goes to his second son and tells him also to go work in the vineyard. This son immediately agrees to go work. However, he did not go.

Jesus asks, “Which of the two does the will of his father?”

They said, “The first.”

Now just why is Jesus sharing this parable with these church leaders now?

When John the Baptist preached repentance and baptism, the great church leaders and devoutly religious followed him and listened intently to what he taught. But they refused to humble themselves, they refused to repent of their sins and they refused to be baptized. They wanted to know who this John was and what he was all about but that’s as faras it went. In chapter 3 of Matthew, John calls them a “Brood of Vipers.”

Which son do you see in this description?

But John continued preaching as one crying in the wilderness to the lost, encouraging them to repent of their sins and be baptized with water. Multitudes did exactly that!

Which son do you see in this scenario?

This is a great lesson to us. Titles, degrees, positions of leadership don’t always mean that we are right. They certainly don’t mean that we ever get beyond the need to humble ourselves before the Lord and repent of our sins, daily!

Starting the day with prayers, worship and confession can be somewhat compared to starting our day, brushing our teeth, taking a quick shower, combing our hair etc. It does indeed help us Face the day with a refreshing attitude and appearance.

Amen


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

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. Sermon shared by Howard Gunter on Sep 24, 2017.

Prayer of the Day for SUNDAY, October 1, 2017


Lord, You are the source of true peace. In this fallen world, there is so much alienation through hostility, enmity, strife, anger, unforgiveness, impatience, selfishness, envy, slander and malice. And this lack of peace in relationships spreads like a virus to larger social arenas. It produces a world in which there is little real peace. Without You, I would have no hope of a solution, because this lack of peace with ourselves and others stems from a lack of peace with You.

But You have opened the way to reconciliation by bringing peace through the death of Your Son. You did what we could never hope to do by opening up the way of access and acceptance before You. I thank and praise You for Your boundless love, mercy and forgiveness that have transformed me from a condemned criminal to Your beloved child. Amen.

Verse of the Day for SUNDAY, October 1, 2017


Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV) “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Read all of Matthew 5

Listen to Matthew 5

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

Exploring the Parables with Cap'n Kenny - The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Luke 18:1-8
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

THINK ABOUT IT
Because of ongoing injustice, the presence of the Romans in Israel and the corruption of some of the Jewish leadership, it must have seemed to Jews in the first century as if God would never intervene. The same questions must have also weighed on the early church as they too suffered hardship and injustice.

TALK ABOUT IT
What did this parable teach you about justice?

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny 



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

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

Un Dia a la Vez - Dios toca a tu puerta


Dios toca a tu puerta

He aquí, yo estoy a la puerta y llamo; si alguno oye mi voz y abre la puerta, entraré a él, y cenaré con él, y él conmigo.

Cuando analizamos la frase «Dios toca a la puerta», de inmediato pensamos en su significado según la Palabra y lo que representa: El toque del Señor a la puerta de nuestro corazón.

A pesar de que Dios es el único que nos conoce de manera profunda y sabe todas las cosas que cometemos, Él no toma represalias en nuestra contra. Por el contrario, toca a nuestra puerta a fin de darnos salvación y guiarnos si nos desviamos o andamos en malos caminos.

Siempre tenemos varias oportunidades de cambiar y de enderezar nuestros caminos. A decir verdad, nuestro Padre quiere las aprovechemos con su ayuda y que lo hagamos a tiempo, no cuando toquemos fondo o la situación sea preocupante en realidad.

Hoy es tu día. Así que renuncia a todo lo que te aleja de Dios. Además, pídele que te guíe para hacer su voluntad.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - October 01, 2017


OVERCOMERS 

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Christians in areas of persecution have used many metaphors and similes to describe the victory of following Jesus and becoming an overcomer as He was. Here are some examples:

In the former Soviet Union, believers said:
Overcomers are like nails. The harder you hit them, the deeper they go!

In China believers said:
Overcomers are like bamboo. The more you cut them down, the faster and stronger they grow back.

In Iran believers said:
Overcomers are like rubber balls. The harder you throw them down on the floor, the higher they rebound!

Overcomers are like flowers. The more you crush them, the stronger and sweeter the fragrance.

In the Philippines believers said:
Overcomers are like stained-glass cathedral windows at night. Their true beauty is revealed only when there is light from within.

In India believers said:
Overcomers are like tea bags. You have to put them in hot water to know how strong they are!

You can be an overcomer! And you can stand strong through the storm!

RESPONSE: Today I will be an overcomer standing strong through the storm.

PRAYER: Pray that all Christians living under severe persecution will be encouraged and understand what it means to be an overcomer…as well as anticipate the many rewards Jesus promises to overcomers.

LHM Daily Devotion - October 1, 2017 "Repentant Hearts"

A few months ago, María visited the Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones...

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour



"Repentant Hearts"

October 1, 2017

And he (John) went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
~ Luke 3:3 (ESV)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our international ministry centers to write our Sunday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.

In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour


A few months ago, María visited the Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones ministry center -- that is the Lutheran Hour Ministries' Christ for All Nations center.

María told us that she was very sad because her husband had left the house.

María's greatest grief was that she knew she had been responsible for part of the breakup. Indeed, she was most sorrowful for some of the things she had done as well as some of the things she did not do.

María is not alone.

Looking at our lives, each of us must admit to having done many sins of commission. Sins of commission take place when we actively break God's laws and go against His will. But that's only half the story. We are also guilty of sins of omission.

And, no, sins of omission are not the wrong things we haven't gotten around to doing yet.

A sin of omission takes place when we fail to do, say, or think, the God-pleasing things we should. Many times we regret having done something against other people such as deceiving or cursing people we ought to love.

But we also have to repent of the God-pleasing things we didn't do.

My friends in Christ, look around. How many people still do not know the forgiveness, the salvation, which Jesus' sacrifice has won for them? The Lord has asked us to be His witnesses to all the world. He wants us to share with everyone the wonders of His grace. Sadly, all too often, when we see or meet someone like that, we leave them in the lurch. We don't do for them that which we ought, and our witness is left unmade.

Acknowledging all of our sins, with repentant hearts we stand next to John the Baptizer, who said we should "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8a).

In that spirit, I encourage all believers to faithfully proclaim the love of God to all people.

THE PRAYER: Dear God, may the Holy Spirit help us and make us appreciate Your grace and Jesus' sacrifice, suffering, death, and resurrection. Keep us from all sin and use our talents to make a powerful witness to salvation through Jesus. In His Name I pray. Amen.

Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by a volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous. The volunteer dedicates his life to the service of Christ seven days a week through the Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones ministry center in Paraguay.

Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) in Paraguay, known locally as "Christ for All Nations," opened its first ministry center in 2000. Since Paraguay is in such a remote area, LHM-Paraguay uses Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC) to reach out with the Gospel to as many people as possible. In various communities, small groups of 12 to 30 people often gather to study the Bible and discuss how it relates to their lives. Another way LHM-Paraguay distributes its message is over the radio. Programs are being broadcast over four radio stations throughout the country, including the capital of Asunción.

In this country of nearly seven million people, LHM-Paraguay's staff and volunteers make personal visits, host rallies and lectures, and visit churches to share the Gospel. Using a variety of social media tools (a website, email, Facebook, a blog, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr) as well as radio broadcasts (including a five-minute program that airs twice a day), this center stays connected with individuals throughout the region. For outreach training, Equipping the Saints (ETS) is available to assist people in speaking their faith. In an effort to reach young people, this ministry center utilizes a values-education program, which is presented at schools and clubs. This ministry center also works with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paraguay in outreach events designed to honor and commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

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