Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, November 4, 2017

The Parable of the Mustard Seed - Matthew 13:31-32
Daily Readings

Nehemiah 4:1-23
Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he mocked the Jews. He said in the presence of his associates and of the army of Samaria, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish it in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish-- and burned ones at that?" Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "That stone wall they are building-- any fox going up on it would break it down!" Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their taunt back on their own heads, and give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover their guilt, and do not let their sin be blotted out from your sight; for they have hurled insults in the face of the builders. So we rebuilt the wall, and all the wall was joined together to half its height; for the people had a mind to work. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and the gaps were beginning to be closed, they were very angry, and all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. So we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. But Judah said, "The strength of the burden bearers is failing, and there is too much rubbish so that we are unable to work on the wall." And our enemies said, "They will not know or see anything before we come upon them and kill them and stop the work." When the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times, "From all the places where they live they will come up against us." So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. After I looked these things over, I stood up and said to the nobles and the officials and the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the LORD, who is great and awesome, and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes." When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armor; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah, who were building the wall. The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, "The work is great and widely spread out, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Rally to us wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet. Our God will fight for us." So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, "Let every man and his servant pass the night inside Jerusalem, so that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day." So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me ever took off our clothes; each kept his weapon in his right hand.

Revelation 7:4-17
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel: From the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed. After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Matthew 13:31-35
He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world."

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.

Prayer of the Day for SATURDAY, November 4, 2017

Lord, while I pray for peace and goodwill in our world, I ask you to help me to change my own attitude for the better, so that peace and goodwill may start with the way I behave towards those who have hurt me. Inspire me to be as generous to others as I would like them to be with me.

Verse of the Day for SATURDAY, November 4, 2017

2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Read all of 2 Corinthians 3

Listen to 2 Corinthians 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 - Transformation


Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
~ James 1:21 (ESV)

Self-centered pride and malice toward others must be replaced by a humble acknowledgment of our need for walking in the light of the truths of Scripture. Just as we were brought to a knowledge of God by the word of truth (James 1:18), so there is a present sense in which daily acknowledgment of the implanted word will save us from anger and foolish decisions. However, this will only be true to the extent that we hear and respond to the word.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22). Hearing is, of course, the prerequisite to proper response, because we must know the truth before we can apply it. The problem is that most of us know much more than we live. It is far easier to theorize and postpone the truth than it is to put it into action.

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was” (James 1:23-24). The Word is like a moral mirror that strips away our outer veneer and shows us what we are really like (see Hebrews 4:12-13).

Working through Scripture, the Spirit reveals areas of our lives which need to be changed. When we see these areas and do nothing about them, it is as foolish as a person who looks in a mirror, realizes he has forgotten to put on his pants, and continues to walk out of the house. Revelation is designed to transform, not merely inform, but it cannot accomplish this without our response.
Lord, give me the strength and will and wisdom to allow you to transform me. Amen

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

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Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Devotion shared by Dr. Ken Boa.
Self-centered pride and malice toward others must be replaced by a humble acknowledgment of our need for walking in the light of the truths of Scripture.

Un Dia a la Vez - Dios y las riquezas

Dios y las riquezas

Nadie puede servir a dos señores [...] No se puede servir a la vez a Dios y a las riquezas.
~ Mateo 6:24 (NVI)

Hay una gran tendencia en el ser humano por el dinero y es algo que a veces se le escapa a la gente de las manos. Incluso, esto sucede a menudo de manera incontrolable sin saber el daño espiritual que ocasiona.

Ahora volvamos al punto que vimos en días pasados. Dios desea que tú y yo tengamos bendiciones, una casa linda, un bello auto y, por qué no, algunos lujos. Sin embargo, lo que entristece su corazón es que empecemos a adorar el dinero, porque al único que debemos adorar es a nuestro Dios.

Tu felicidad no debe depender del dinero, porque el día que no lo tengas o que lo pierdas, te sentirás desdichado. Por eso Dios desea que agradezcamos y disfrutemos el dinero sin dejar de reconocer que el dueño del oro y la plata es Él.

La entrega de esta esfera es muy difícil, pero no imposible. Es mejor reconocer esta debilidad, pedir perdón y darle la gloria a Dios.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - NO TURNING BACK


“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
~ Matthew 10:38 (NIV)

In northern Nigeria, confessing Christ by word of mouth is not the only test of a believer’s sincere submission to the authority of Christ—particularly one coming to Christ from Islam. A true follower of Jesus must be prepared to carry the cross, or else he falls away.

For 25-year-old Akin, his cross came quickly. His father and uncle took him from the home of one Islamic scholar to another, trying to convince him to compromise his faith in Christ. But all their efforts proved fruitless. Finally, as a last resort, Akin’s family took him to an Islamic reformatory where he must either accept Islam, or die.

“There, I lived with thieves, murderers, alcoholics and drug addicts whose parents or relatives had brought them there to be rehabilitated. I did not belong there…Immediately, they had my hands and feet chained. The chains fastened on my legs were worse, as they joined the metals directly on my legs. They also beat me consistently. The experience was agonizing, but I had to endure, because I had seen the light in Christ and accepted it,” said Akin.

“They maltreated us, but mine was more severe because the Islamic teacher told them I had blasphemed against the prophet of Islam,” said Akin. “I wore the same shirt and trousers for nine months. I could not even wash them since I was chained, hands and feet.”

After nine months in chains and under the cruel treatment of outcasts and the Islamic teacher, the Islamic teacher took Akin back to his father’s house in the village. “My father was very upset and asked the Islamic teacher to take me back, since I had not recanted my faith in Christ,” Akin said. But the teacher refused. “He handed me over to my father and left.”

Because staying with his parents would mean his death, he immediately fled to a pastor’s house for refuge. Akin stayed indoors for two weeks until the church relocated him to a more secure environment. Akin was discipled over the next two years, and then called into ministry.

Now in a Bible school, Akin still cannot go back home. The church in his village is small, with almost no means to support him. His Christian mentor is the only source of help for his school fees, books and provision of food.

“For me the battle continues, although I know it is Christ who rescued me,” says Akin. “This is a constant reminder that Christ actually gave up his life for me…So my experience in that [Islamic reformatory] was just a part of the road that leads to eternity with Christ. He has told us the journey will not be easy, but we must press on, no turning back.”

RESPONSE: Today I will persevere in following Jesus no matter what obstacles I face. I will not turn back!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the example of believers like Akin whose example imitates Yours in teaching me to follow after You, no matter the cost.

NIV Devotionals for Couples - Digging Out of a Little Sin

Digging Out of a Little Sin

Joshua 7:1–26

“Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.”
~ Joshua 7:11 (NIV)

I’m tempted to cry, “Not fair!” upon reading the story of Achan. First, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal for him to have taken some treasure as reward for victory in battle. And second, all of the Israelites were held responsible for the sin of one man who had stolen and hidden plunder after the battle of Jericho against God’s direct command. Because of the “small” sin of one man, God punished all of Israel by withdrawing his blessing and allowing the people to be humiliated and defeated at the battle of Ai.

I remember when my young children would complain that a punishment was too harsh for their “teeny” disobedience. I’d bring up Adam and Eve’s teeny bite of the forbidden fruit. I’d ask them how many bites of the fruit it would have taken to become a punishable act. They got it—that it’s not the size of the disobedience but the meaning behind it that’s the problem. Like Achan, Adam and Eve disrespected God by their disobedience.

Likewise, in marriage, individual actions reflect one’s commitment to the marriage covenant. When I’m tempted to do something selfish, I ask myself two questions: (1) “How would I feel if Grey did this?” and (2) “How would I feel if our children found out?” I’m stopped in my tracks every time. So, something like an “innocent” email exchange with an old flame is now revealed to my own heart for what it is: betrayal.

Sin in marriage is not an individual issue. It affects the marriage relationship, the wider family and also the entire community. Who would deny that infidelity and divorce have wreaked havoc upon millions of children and ripped the fabric of our society? In the same way, Achan’s selfish act ripped the fabric of Israel’s relationship with God.

Achan’s other sin was the cover-up; he deceitfully hid the plunder he had stolen. But eventually the truth was revealed, just as it is in twenty-first-century families. A woman writes in her journal about her intimate relationship with another man. She thinks no one will ever know. But one day her husband does the unthinkable; he decides to clean all the books on the bookshelf and discovers the diary behind the dusty volumes. Or a husband thinks he can cover his gambling losses by taking greater risks that promise bigger payoffs. But when the bank statement arrives with a negative balance—and his wife gets the mail—the whole family suffers the painful consequences of financial loss.

Achan’s lesson still holds true: Everyone loses in the sin game.

~ Mary Ann Jeffreys

Let’s Talk
  • What steps will we take to stay honest with each other about money, friends, and recreational activities? In what areas have we been less than fully honest?
  • What effect might “hidden” sins have on our marriage if we continue doing them for several months or even years?
  • What “no big deal” sins are we willing to overlook in our relationship? If we continue doing them, what or who might then bring them to light?

LHM Daily Devotion - November 4, 2017

When car companies try to woo customers, they brag about how spacious...
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour

"Contentment in Christ"

November 4, 2017

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
  • When car companies try to woo customers, they brag about how spacious their vehicle’s interior is by emphasizing all the available leg room, head room, and seat room.
  • When colleges try to recruit students, they point out the beauty of their campus, the variety of their studies, and the ready availability of scholarships.
  • When a business tries to hire a special individual, the company keeps talking about salaries, bonuses, stock options, retirement programs, and a warm-and-relaxed work environment.
But when Jesus calls His disciples, He says something quite different. Rather than pleading with us to join Him, He warns, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24b).

Rather than pointing out how good things are going to be for His followers, the Savior says, "Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for My Name's sake" (Matthew 10:21-22a).

Truly, God's Word never says Christians won't have problems.

But we are also told that when problems arrive, we can "cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us" (1 Peter 5:7). For Christians, a thankful heart does not come because they have it "made in the shade."

They know that they, like everyone else in this world, are sinners (see Ecclesiastes 7:20). They know there is no religious immunization which can make them impervious to agony and anguish. They know true thankfulness, untarnishing thankfulness, cannot be based on the transient and worldly.

They know true thankfulness can only come from an unchanging, always-caring, ever-present God.

Look at the story of Noah. All he once knew was gone: cities gone; farms gone; shopping malls gone; vegetation, wildlife, and relatives, mostly gone. The whole world is before him, but it is a hurting world, empty and void, filled with loneliness. Confronted by this bleak and barren place, Noah leaves the ark and makes a sacrifice of thanks. God's rainbow tells him he is not alone, has never been alone, cannot be alone. Noah, in the face of great loss remains thankful (see Genesis 5-9).

Look at the apostle Paul. He had been shipwrecked and stoned, unjustly accused, and hounded from city to city. He had been mobbed, beaten, jailed, and tormented (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-26). The day would come when he would die for the Savior. Considering all of these things, Paul could write, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

Indeed, because he had seen what Jesus had done for him upon the accursed cross, Paul "learned to be content in whatever circumstance" he found himself (see Philippians 4:11).

And, by the Holy Spirit's power, we can be given such Christian contentment, too.

THE PRAYER: Lord, grant that my contentment be based on more than this world's fleeting and unreliable pleasures. Instead, let me learn to lean upon the Christ who is with me always. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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