Friday, November 17, 2017

The Daily Readings for FRIDAY, November 17, 2017

Matthew 16:15
Daily Readings

1 Maccabees 1:41-63
Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that all should give up their particular customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added, "And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die." In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had. Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers' necks. But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.

Revelation 19:11-16
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, "King of kings and Lord of lords."

Matthew 16:13-20
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

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 FRIDAY, November 17, 2017

O heavenly Father, you have filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse of the Day for FRIDAY, November 17, 2017

Psalm 119:105 (NIV) Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Read all of Psalm 119

Listen to Psalm 119

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 - An Unlikely Leader

An Unlikely Leader

And the LORD said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.'"
~ Judges 7:2 (NKJV)

The Israelites lived in fear of their enemies the Midianites. The Midianites had numbers so large, they were described in the Bible as being “as numerous as locusts” (Judges 6:5). They were everywhere, and the children of Israel were greatly outnumbered.

They needed to defeat the Midianites, but they needed someone to lead them. So God found a man named Gideon. When we’re first introduced to Gideon in Judges 6, he was hiding from his enemies, threshing wheat. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (verse 12).

I can imagine Gideon looking around and saying, “Who? Are you talking to me?” If there was anything Gideon was not at that moment, it was a mighty man of valor. But through a series of events in Gideon’s life, he was transformed and became a man of great courage. He summoned the people to go into battle against the Midianites.

Then the Lord came to Gideon one day and delivered a message that I’m sure he wasn’t pleased to hear: his army was too big. Maybe Gideon said, “You’re joking! I love it when You joke, Lord! Too big! We’re already outnumbered, and we’re too big!”

But God wasn’t kidding. He didn’t want anyone to say they defeated the Midianites in their own strength. So He gave Gideon a test for the men that would thin out the ranks. In the end, Gideon was left with 300 men. And with 300 men God defeated the Midianites.

You see, our numbers don’t have to be large. God can do a lot with a little. And God can use little people to do big things. You are never too small for God to use, but you can be too big.

In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

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

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Devotion © 2017 Harvest Christian Fellowship; all rights reserved.
God can do a lot with a little!

Un Dia a la Vez - Cuando Dios produce los cambios

Cuando Dios produce los cambios

Escucha, hijo mío; acoge mis palabras, y los años de tu vida aumentarán. Yo te guío por el camino de la sabiduría, te dirijo por sendas de rectitud.

Como hijo de Dios, no te debes preocupar, ni tienes que dudar, ni temer. ¿Por qué? Porque es muy diferente cuando las situaciones de la vida se presentan con el sello de Dios. Es como cuando compras un auto de lujo y sabes que no te dará ni un dolor de cabeza. O cuando compras confiado un aparato electrodoméstico de una marca reconocida porque sabes que tendrás en casa lo que cuesta en calidad y en garantía. Mejor aun, es cuando tu Padre celestial te llama a un cambio.

A cada momento, Dios nos muestra esferas de la vida que están podridas. Sí, eso es, suena feo y horrible, pero es verdad. Nos están contaminando y serían capaces de infectar a las personas que nos rodean.

He visto también que cuando Dios tiene un llamado, prepara nuestros corazones para cambios en la vida. Quizá sea dejar un trabajo secular para servirle al cien por cien en la obra. Esto atemoriza porque queremos sentirnos seguros. Entonces, cuando no vemos nada fijo, podemos dudar. Sin embargo, debes saber que los cambios son necesarios y determinantes para nuestro futuro.

Cuando dejamos todo en las manos de Dios, no hay problema, pues Él no se equivoca. Sabe lo que es mejor para cada uno de sus hijos y ve las cosas de otra manera, pues conoce el futuro. Así que no te resistas cuando sientas un llamado al cambio. Dios tiene el control y no hay nada más maravilloso que servirle a Él que es el mejor jefe.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - TRANSFORMING INITIATIVES


But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

When we read these verses about non-violent resistance we usually think this is a defensive directive of Jesus. For example, a leading church bishop in Nigeria, amidst severe Muslim-Christian conflict, has repeatedly been quoted in the press as saying, “We have turned the other cheek so many times, we have no more cheeks to turn!” This statement is often repeated by young people in the conflict zones of Nigeria who have become frustrated by Muslim attacks.

Palestinian Christians involved in peace, reconciliation and non-violence movements have helped me see this teaching differently. When Jesus teaches about “turning the other cheek,” it was an offensive—not a defensive—act of peace using a culturally relevant example of His day. A person who slapped another on the cheek normally used the back of the right hand as an act of insult by a superior to an inferior. Thus, by turning the “other” cheek, the one hit (the perceived powerless person) takes an initiative to force the aggressor to now return the swing and hit his face a second time. This time the “hit” must be with an aggressive open palm or fist thereby transforming the nature of the relationship. Very counter-cultural.

The Christ-like response of turning the other cheek says the person does not assume the inferior place of humiliation the striker had in mind but views himself as an equal. The supposedly powerless person has redefined the relationship and forced the oppressor into a moral choice: escalate the violence or respond with repentance and reconciliation.

Other transforming initiatives are to give your cloak when sued for your tunic and to carry a load for two miles for a person who can legally demand that you carry it for only one mile.

We all must seek “transforming initiatives” within our own particular context.

In the sixteenth century a renegade group of Christian leaders rebelled against their own religion. These dissenters called for the church to separate from the state and to reject all forms of violence. They waged their war with weapons of peace, and many died for their radical cause of calling Christians back to the way of Christ.

Known as “Anabaptists,” they dared to think that Jesus should be taken seriously when he taught his followers to turn the other cheek, love their enemies, and do good to those who hate them. These “Inglorious Pastors” paved the way for all to lay down arms and acts of violence even at the expense of our own lives and liberties.

RESPONSE: As a peacemaker for Jesus, I will seek out “transforming initiates” wherever I see conflict.

PRAYER: Lord, give me the attitude of Your peace and Your methods of not resisting an evil person that will prompt repentance and reconciliation.

Men of the Bible - Lazarus


His name means: "God Helps"

His work: Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary, the family who hosted Jesus in their home when he traveled through Bethany.
His character: Little is known about Lazarus other than that he was one of Jesus' close friends.
His sorrow: Lazarus had a terminal illness and eventually succumbed to it.
His triumph: Very few have had the experience of hearing Jesus' voice from the tomb. Lazarus was such a person.
Key Scriptures: John 11

A Look at the Man

The story of Lazarus's resurrection is filled with ironies.

We know where Lazarus lived—Bethany—and the names of his two sisters—Mary and Martha—but we have no record of a single word he spoke or even a mention of what he was like. We don't know his occupation, who his parents were, or, if he was married, the names of his wife and children.

If it hadn't been for his special friendship with the Savior, Lazarus's death wouldn't even have merited a footnote in the gospel account. Yet his story is one of the most well-known in all of Scripture.

When word reached Jesus that Lazarus was deathly ill, Jesus seemed unaffected—almost cavalier—about it. Of course, people bringing bad news to Jesus would have been a nonstop event during his waking hours, but Lazarus was his friend—his good friend. Jesus suggested that he and his disciples should visit Bethany—in two days!

Like a wife kindly taking her husband aside to challenge his bad manners, we can imagine the disciples suggesting that Jesus might want to reconsider his decision. "How will this look to the family?" they may have counseled.

"I'm doing this for you," was Jesus' perplexing response.

At the same time, the disciples were not eager to travel west to Bethany. No doubt, they would have to go through Jerusalem where, just a few days before, a handful of Jewish leaders had threatened to stone Jesus. He had said, "My Father and I are one," and these people weren't willing to accommodate a man who claimed to be equal with God.

Two days later the disciples were willing to take their chances. Helping a desperate friend like Lazarus was more urgent than any danger they may have encountered. As they reached the outskirts of Bethany, first Martha and then Mary ran to meet Jesus, reporting the news he already knew. Once again Jesus did not seem eager to help—at least not within Martha and Mary's time frame.

Jesus asked where Lazarus's body was entombed and made his way to the site along with a cadre of curious—and a few cynical—onlookers. At no point in this story, however, did he seem to be in a hurry.

Soon he arrived at the cemetery. Can you envision Jesus standing in front of his friend's burial cave? It had been four days since Lazarus had died. His two sisters, now standing at Jesus' side, were in a quandary. They were hoping for a miracle, but they were just as concerned about how much their decaying brother's body would smell. The people who had come, standing behind Jesus and Lazarus's sisters, completed the picture.

Everyone stopped talking as Jesus lifted his head to the heavens to pray. "Father," he began, "I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you would. But for the benefit of these people standing here, I especially thank you for listening this time."

People shifted nervously in their places, but no one spoke. Those in the back of the crowd craned their necks to see what might happen next.

"Lazarus, come out!" Jesus said in a voice much louder than anyone had ever heard him use. The living God had just spoken. If he hadn't identified his friend by name, every crypt in the entire cemetery would have emptied.

And then Lazarus appeared. In his own time and with only the sound of his voice, the Messiah had brought a corpse to its feet.

The final irony was that the Savior raised Lazarus from the dead with his voice but didn't speak the removal of Lazarus's grave clothes. He certainly could have finished the job, but he didn't. Instead, a man wrapped tightly from head to foot stood there in front of his own burial cave—and in front of everyone. "Take off the grave clothes and let him go," Jesus ordered the gawking crowd.

The last act of this incredible miracle—the unbinding and releasing of the man—was left to his family and friends.

Reflect On: John 11:38–42
Praise God: For his resurrection power.
Offer Thanks: For God’s love for you, for calling you by name and redeeming you from darkness into the light of his glory.
Confess: Your complacency, your willingness to make the best of your “tombs” rather than daily abandoning them and walking into the light.
Ask God: To fill you with the same sense of wonder and gratitude that Lazarus felt as he stood in the mouth of his burial crypt. And ask him to show you others who need your hands to unwrap their “grave clothes.”

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (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 - Let Go and Let God

Let Go and Let God

Today’s Truth

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
~ Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Friend to Friend

Physical therapists scare me. They are so friendly and so kind … until they get hold of whatever body part needs therapy. That’s when the torture begins.

At first, the therapist is gentle, lulling you into a false sense of comfort. Then it begins.  I soon learned that they push just a little past the point where pain begins and your trust in them ends, doing very little to change my mind about the role of a physical therapist.

Several months ago I had extensive surgery for a separated shoulder. For six weeks, my surgeon threatened me within an inch of my life about not moving my arm and shoulder at all. When I went in for a follow-up visit, he examined me, smiled and said, “You are healing well, so I think you are ready for some therapy. I will set it up.”

When I went in for my first therapy session, a very kind woman who introduced herself and said she would be working with me greeted me with a smile. We talked for a few minutes about my injury, the surgery, pain levels and her role in my recovery. She then asked me to remove my sling and lay down on a table where she surrounded me with fluffy pillows. Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

After not moving my arm and shoulder for six weeks, I was a little nervous when she gently took my arm in her hands. Explaining that we were going to proceed slowly and with great caution. “Since this is your first visit, we are just going to do two or three exercises that will tell me how stiff and sore your shoulder is” she said. She then told me to take a deep breath and slowly let it out. With gentle kind hands, she began to move my arm in small circles. After six weeks of not moving my arm at all, the simple exercise felt very strange and only mildly uncomfortable.

The therapist stopped, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Let me have it.” She could tell by the confusion on my face that I had no idea what she meant. She smiled and told me to give her the full weight of my arm, to relax and let her do the work. “You don’t have to do anything. That is my job. Just tell me when and how much it hurts. Let me have it.” When I forced myself to relax my arm and shoulder, I immediately understood what she meant.

I could trust her. She knew exactly what to do to help me heal and fully recover from the surgery. All I had to do was to stop trying to do it on my own, relax and let her have the full weight of my wounded arm and shoulder.

I am now into the third month of physical rehab and can tell you that my therapist is an angel. God has used her to help me heal. When I try to push too hard, anxious to complete the therapy and get back at life full speed, she can read the pain in my face and reminds me to relax and let her have my arm so she can do what she needs to do.

My Father works the same way. I come to Him with a burden that is painful and so hard to bear. And He says, “Let me have it.”

When I have been hurt and betrayed, my heart is broken and I cry out to Him for comfort, He says, “Let me have it.”

When I have sinned and run to Him for forgiveness, He says, “Let me have it.”

So often I pull back, afraid to fully trust Him. I know. You would think that by now, after all we have been through together, that I would know how absurd it is to even question His work in my life. But I am so human. I want to know the plan before I can rest in Him and let Him have my burdens. I know that my plans are so inferior to His, but I don’t like to surrender control.

I am so thankful God knows me and loves me still. He patiently waits for me to get to the end of myself and then says, “I’m here, child. Let me have it.”

Let’s Pray

Father, please forgive me when I stubbornly refuse to give up control. I want to become a woman of faith whose first choice is to let You have every burden in my life. Thank You for Your unconditional love and forgiveness.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Make a list of the concerns and burdens in your life today. Spend time in prayer, surrendering each one to God. Destroy the list and thank Him for His faithfulness.

More from the Girlfriends

We are sometimes afraid to fully trust God because we do not understand how much He loves us. Check out Mary’s CD, Love That Never Fails. In this powerful message, Mary shares her story and the truth that true love doesn’t collapse under pressure or fall apart in the hard times. And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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

Girlfriends in God

LHM Daily Devotion - November 17, 2017 "Smart or Not"

Have you ever been impressed at how smart some people can be? Me, too...
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour

"Smart or Not"

November 17, 2017

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

Have you ever been impressed at how smart some people can be? Me, too.
  • I have been at lectures where I hadn't understood a single thing the speaker was saying, and yes, he was talking English.

  • I have been with families when the doctor used so many 25-cent medical words to describe the patient's condition that, when he was done, nobody knew if their loved one was really sick, getting better, or had been completely cured.

  • I have even played trivia against folks who got every single answer right in every category on the board. That was really depressing.

On the other hand, people are not always incredibly smart, are they?

Last month the Iowa Department of Transportation put out an important clarification for motorists who were confused by the signs which warned of deer crossings. One of those drivers spoke for many when they wrote to the IDOT and suggested, "Why don't you put these signs where it is safer for deer to cross?"

The IDOT wrote back, and I quote them lest you think I make this up: "Deer can't read signs. Drivers can. This sign isn't intended to tell deer where to cross; it's for drivers to be alert that deer have been in this area in the past."

Now the point of all this is simple.

The world is filled with all kinds of people whom the Lord has blessed with an unbelievable spectrum of gifts. All of those gifts can be used wisely or foolishly; all of them can move us to appreciation for, or disdain of, our Maker.

In our text above, the Lord Himself gives us a clue on how we should live and use the blessings He has bestowed. First, He suggests that we don't brag to the world on how good we are, how smart we are, how strong we are.

That's because everything we are and have and hope to be flows from His benevolent hand.

No, if we are going to point with pride to anything or anyone, let our praises rest on the Triune God. Not only has He made and preserved us, He has also saved us. Jesus coming, His life, His death, and resurrection are gifts which bring about forgiveness and eternal life.

Now, for those gifts we give thanks to God. It is after all, the wise thing to do.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant me a spirit of humility which acknowledges all You have done for me. Let me thank You for great gifts and small and especially for my Savior in whose Name this prayer is offered. Amen.

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

CPTLN Devocional de 17 de Noviembre de 2017 - En un cuarto oscuro

Sepa que Dios está con usted y que quiere ayudarle.
Alimento Diario

En un cuarto oscuro

17 de Noviembre 2017

Ustedes, pueblo fiel del Señor, ¡canten salmos y alaben su santo nombre! Su enojo dura sólo un momento, pero su bondad dura toda la vida. Tal vez lloremos durante la noche, pero en la mañana saltaremos de alegría.
~ Salmo 30:4-5 (RVC)

¡Que brillante es el amanecer después de la oscuridad que precede! Con la salida del sol, la luz viene de todas direcciones, inunda los cielos y hace desaparecer los misterios de la noche. Grandiosas mañanas vienen de noches de profunda oscuridad y grandiosas bendiciones vienen de la mano de Dios.

Sin embargo, algunas veces la luz puede parecer muy distante. Palabras de rencor, actitudes malas, planes malévolos contra otros -en una palabra, los pecados- pueden oscurecer nuestro andar por el camino de la vida, manteniéndonos en un "cuarto oscuro."

Debido a nuestra naturaleza corrupta y pecadora arrojamos rocas al camino por el que avanzamos y hasta plantamos espinas y cardos que nos aprisionan. Como resultado de nuestras propias malas acciones, Dios nos puede disciplinar. Aunque, según las Escrituras: "... sólo un instante dura su enojo, pero toda una vida su bondad".

Si usted está pasando por un tiempo oscuro en su vida, sepa que Dios está con usted y que quiere ayudarle. Al enviar a su hijo Jesús a la cruz cargando el peso de nuestros pecados, él demostró su amor ilimitado e incondicional hacia nosotros.

Pero la historia no termina con un cuerpo crucificado en una tumba, pues "Dios lo resucitó, librándolo de las angustias de la muerte...", (Hechos 2:24a). Y así, a través de la fe en el sacrificio de Cristo, también tenemos esperanza en una nueva vida.

La palabra de Dios es constante y verdadera, y a través de su Espíritu Santo está obrando -aún en el cuarto oscuro- trasformándonos en la imagen de Cristo.

ORACIÓN: Señor, sin ti la oscuridad me rodea. Guía mis pasos y renuévame a través del poder de la muerte y gloriosa resurrección de Jesús. En su nombre. Amén.

Biografía del autor: Esta devoción fue escrita por un voluntario de la oficina de Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones en Beirut, Líbano.

© Copyright 2017 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones. ¡Utilice estas devociones en sus boletines! Usado con permiso. Todos los derechos reservados por la Int'l LLL.