Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Daily Readings for WEDNESDAY, December 6, 2017

The Parable of the Two Sons
Daily Readings

Amos 3:12-4:5
I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty, for the LORD dwells in Zion. Thus says the LORD: As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who live in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed. Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob, says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts: On the day I punish Israel for its transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. I will tear down the winter house as well as the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end, says the LORD. Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on Mount Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, "Bring something to drink!" The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness: The time is surely coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. Through breaches in the wall you shall leave, each one straight ahead; and you shall be flung out into Harmon, says the LORD. Come to Bethel-- and transgress; to Gilgal-- and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; bring a thank offering of leavened bread, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel! says the Lord GOD.

2 Peter 3:1-10
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!" They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

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.

Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas, also called Nicholas of Bari or Nicholas of Myra (flourished 4th century, Myra, Lycia, Asia Minor [near modern Kale (Demre), Turkey]; feast day December 6) one of the most popular minor saints commemorated in the Eastern and Western churches and now traditionally associated with the festival of Christmas. In many countries children receive gifts on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day.

Nicholas’s existence is not attested by any historical document, so nothing certain is known of his life except that he was probably bishop of Myra in the 4th century. According to tradition, he was born in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara, and, when young, traveled to Palestine and Egypt. He became bishop of Myra soon after returning to Lycia. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian but was released under the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great and attended the first Council (325) of Nicaea. He was buried in his church at Myra, and by the 6th century his shrine there had become well-known. In 1087 Italian sailors or merchants stole his alleged remains from Myra and took them to Bari, Italy; this removal greatly increased the saint’s popularity in Europe, and Bari became one of the most crowded of all pilgrimage centres. Nicholas’s relics remain enshrined in the 11th-century basilica of San Nicola at Bari.

Nicholas’s reputation for generosity and kindness gave rise to legends of miracles he performed for the poor and unhappy. He was reputed to have given marriage dowries of gold to three girls whom poverty would otherwise have forced into lives of prostitution and to have restored to life three children who had been chopped up by a butcher and put in a tub of brine. In the Middle Ages, devotion to Nicholas extended to all parts of Europe. He became the patron saint of Russia and Greece; of charitable fraternities and guilds; of children, sailors, unmarried girls, merchants, and pawnbrokers; and of such cities as Fribourg, in Switzerland, and Moscow. Thousands of European churches were dedicated to him, one, built by the Roman emperor Justinian I at Constantinople (now Istanbul), as early as the 6th century. Nicholas’s miracles were a favourite subject for medieval artists and liturgical plays, and his traditional feast day was the occasion for the ceremonies of the Boy Bishop, a widespread European custom in which a boy was elected bishop and reigned until Holy Innocents’ Day (December 28).

After the Reformation, devotion to Nicholas disappeared in all the Protestant countries of Europe except Holland, where his legend persisted as Sinterklaas (a Dutch variant of the name Saint Nicholas). Dutch colonists took this tradition with them to New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the American colonies in the 17th century. Sinterklaas was adopted by the country’s English-speaking majority under the name Santa Claus, and his legend of a kindly old man was united with old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished naughty children and rewarded good children with presents. The resulting image of Santa Claus in the United States crystallized in the 19th century, and he has ever since remained the patron of the gift-giving festival of Christmas.

Under various guises Saint Nicholas was transformed into a similar benevolent gift-giving figure in the Netherlands, Belgium, and other northern European countries. In the United Kingdom, Santa Claus is known as Father Christmas.

Prayer of the Day for WEDNESDAY, December 6, 2017


Lord God, may I always remember the blessing of being born in a time when I can know Christ.
Amen

Verse of the Day for WEDNESDAY, December 6, 2017


Malachi 3:1 (NIV) “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Read all of Malachi 3

Listen to Malachi 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 - The Messenger


The Messenger

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me
~ Malachi 3:1 (NIV)

The last section of the historical narrative of the Old Testament tells the story of the exiled Jews and the Jews who were restored to the Promised Land. Among the exiles, we hear of Esther who married the king and saved her people from genocide. Among those restored to the Promised Land, we read of Nehemiah and Ezra who returned to rebuild the wall and the temple and restore temple worship.

The Old Testament concludes with a note of expectancy: “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:1)

Following the last writings of the Old Testament, there was an inter-testamental lag of about 400 years where there were no Biblical writings. During that time the world experienced the classical Greek period of Athens, Sparta and the philosophers; the Persians of Daniel’s day conquered much of the world before diminishing and being replaced by the empire of Alexander the Great. The influence of Greece gave way to the rise of Rome and a new empire of iron ruled the known world. It was into this period of relative political stability that Jesus was born.

When he came, there were shouts of praise in the heavenlies. The exuberance of the angels bespeaks a groaning of the entirety of creation for the Messiah. Yet he came in humility.

I can fail to appreciate the magnitude of his coming sometimes. Reading scripture in this way reminds me how blessed I am to have been born into an age after his coming.
Lord God, may I always remember the blessing of being born in a time when I can know Christ. Amen
In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny


Seeking God?
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
When he came, there were shouts of praise in the heavenlies.

Un Dia a la Vez - Cuida tu milagro


Cuida tu milagro

Testificando Dios juntamente con ellos, con señales y prodigios y diversos milagros y repartimientos del Espíritu Santo según su voluntad.
~ Hebreos 2:4 (RVR1960)

La primera vez que escuché la frase «Cuida tu milagro», me llamó mucho la atención. ¿Cuidar mi milagro? ¿Cómo? ¿Por qué? Bueno, estas son preguntas que quizá surjan y tienen muchísimo sentido.

Nosotros oramos por un milagro, ya sea por restauración del matrimonio o por salud o cualquier necesidad. Entonces Dios, que es un Dios de milagros, lo hace para demostrarnos su poder sobrenatural y para que le reconozcamos y honremos. No obstante, una vez que lo hace, nosotros somos los encargados de cuidar ese milagro.

Cuando Dios nos bendice con un milagro, que humanamente es imposible, es cuando más debemos cuidarlo. Nuestra naturaleza tiende al olvido y a la ingratitud y, a la larga, se descuida ese regalo.

En mi caso, fui una tonta en este aspecto, pues una vez que me sanó Dios, empecé a descuidarme en mis comidas. Las consecuencias no fueron otras que varias recaídas que terminaban en el hospital y muy enferma. La cosa siguió así hasta que en uno de esos tantos retrocesos, estando en el hospital, Dios me mostró que ya me había sanado, pero que yo no cuidaba mi milagro. Fue súper fuerte cuando lo comprendí y no me quedó más remedio que humillarme y pedirle perdón a mi Dios.

¡Cuida tu milagro, honra a Dios y da testimonio de su poder!

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - FULFILLING THE FIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE CHURCH


FULFILLING THE FIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE CHURCH

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In the summer of 2010, I led an excellent team of Open Doors staff and supporters on a visit to North Korea. We were allowed to pray publically in the areas we visited and of course were presented with a formal church service on Sunday morning at one of the three churches functioning in Pyongyang. It was a well-executed performance–especially the choir. On its website, the Korean Christian Federation claims that there are ten thousand Protestant Christians in North Korea meeting at five hundred designated centers. In reality, Christians in the country experience tremendous challenges in worshipping publically.

Brother Simon, the leader of the Open Doors work in North Korea, says that the true church must operate underground in the country. “They can’t simply go to church to sing and to listen to the sermon. It is clear that being a Christian in North Korea is a lonely business.”

Simon’s thoughts turn to Sundays in North Korea. “It happens only sporadically that Christians consider themselves safe enough to meet together in small groups. Usually gatherings consist of only two people. For example, a Christian goes and sits on a bench in the park. Another Christian comes and sits next to him. Sometimes it’s dangerous even to speak to one another, but they know they are both Christians, and at such a time, this is enough. If there is no one around, they may be able to share a Bible verse which they have learned off by heart and briefly say something about it. They also share prayer topics with each other. Then they leave one another and go and look for a Christian in some other part of their town or village. This continues throughout the Sunday. A cell group usually consists of fewer than twenty Christians, who encourage and strengthen one another, plus one-to-one meetings in people’s homes.

“Only if the whole family has turned to Christ is it possible to have something like a real fellowship gathering, as long as you keep your faith hidden from the neighbours. Besides this, it is sometimes possible to hold a meeting in remote areas with a group of ten to twenty people. Very occasionally, it is possible for Christians to go unobtrusively into the mountains and to hold a ‘service’ at a secret location like a cave. Then it may be the case that there are as many as sixty or seventy North Korean Christians gathered together.”

In spite of severe limitations, believers can fulfill all five biblical functions of the church.

RESPONSE: I will thankfully take my place in the assembly of believers to fulfill the church’s functions.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for the faithfulness of Your church in North Korea against all obstacles.

Girlfriends in God - Knowing About God is Not Enough


Knowing About God is Not Enough

Today’s Truth

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
~ John 5:39-40 (NIV)

Friend to Friend

Studying God’s Word has been one of my greatest joys since the day I became a Christian as a teenager. But sometimes I can get so wrapped up in studying about God, that I forget my relationship with God.

I read the Bible, pour through commentaries, and decipher Greek and Hebrew words. However, on many occasions, I have allowed my determined mind that wants to know more about God to override my soul’s deepest longing to simply know God. All my studying will be stillbirth if I do not move the words from my head to my heart to deepen my relationship with Jesus. If the words do not move me to worship and relationship, then I’ve missed the point.

All through history there have been men and women who have had an abundance of knowledge about God but have had little to no manifestation of God’s presence or power in their lives. Week after week people fill churches to hear well-delivered sermons, only to leave with the glory ache still eating away at their hearts. There is a yearning within our breasts which scholarly teaching simply cannot satisfy.

We can have a right opinion about God. We can agree that He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient and still not be in right relationship with Him. Satan is proof of that. He knows exactly who God is and what He can do (James 2:19).

Knowledge about someone will never satisfy the longing to know someone personally. That doesn’t mean that we don’t study the Bible. But it does mean that we don’t stockpile knowledge and miss the intimate relationship Jesus died to make possible. His Word is a means by which He speaks to us in relationship. God’s Word is not a substitute for the relationship itself.

Jesus warned the religious scholars of his day: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). Could Jesus be saying the same to me and to you? Have we been filing in the blanks of our well-laid-out Bible study books and neglecting to fill in the blanks of our empty hearts with Him?

We can possess volumes of Bible study knowledge, but if the words do not bring us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ, it becomes of no consequence to us. God’s word may convince us to try harder to be more moral, but head knowledge alone will not transform our lives. It is to the heart that God first speaks, and it is with the heart that our love relationship grows.

Here is what God is whispering to you today: “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me” (Song of Songs 2:10)

Let’s Pray

Lord, today I am praying the words of Paul to the Ephesians. I pray that I will be rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for me, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Our prayer for today is taken from Ephesians3:17-19. I encourage you to open your Bible and read the entire chapter.

Click over to my Facebook page and tell me one way that God has shown that He loves you. I know our first response will be Jesus! So let’s share another way other than this all-important one.

More from the Girlfriends

Do you long to feel close to God but feel like there’s something missing? That you’ve missed that mysterious formula to make it happen? Do you have a glory ache—a persistent longing to experience God’s presence and working in your life, but you’re not quite sure how to make it happen? If so, my book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More, is just for you. Join me in discovering how to erase the lines between the secular and the sacred and experience a deeper more intimate relationship with God than ever before. While you’re there, you can download a free chapter or watch a video book trailer. It also includes a Bible study guide.

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

Girlfriends in God


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries - "IF YOU HAVE THE LORD, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING "


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"IF YOU HAVE THE LORD, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING "

December 6, 2017

TEXT: ... and Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. ...

Ruth is another person you would not expect to show up in the family tree of Jesus. She was a foreigner, a woman from Moab-a poor immigrant to Bethlehem who worked hard in the fields to support her mother-in-law. Her story is told in the Book of Ruth.

Ruth was a believer in the Lord, the God of Israel. She learned to know Him during her first marriage to an Israelite man who died young. After his death, Ruth clung to the Lord and to what family she had left, and she left her home country to live in Israel. Ruth had almost nothing at that point. But God watched over her and gave her everything-a home, a husband and family, and an honored place among the ancestors of Jesus.

And what of you? I suspect you, like so many people, can think of a time when you felt you had almost nothing. It might have been after a job loss, foreclosure, or divorce-a time when you lost so many of the physical things you depend on. Or it might have been more of an emotional or social situation, where you had what you needed physically, but you lost friends, family, love, reputation, or peace.

Times like these force us to our knees, force us to call out to the Lord, saying, "Lord, save us!" We know we cannot help ourselves. But He can help us, and He will. The God who laid aside glory, honor, and power to become a helpless human baby for our sakes-He will help us quickly. We are never out of His heart and mind.

Jesus loves us deeply, and He has become our Savior. It is for us that He suffered, died, and rose from the dead. He is our life, our hope, and our peace. When we have the Lord, we have everything.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us when we are in distress. Teach us to lean on You and find in You everything we need. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Ruth is another person you would not expect to show up in the family tree of Jesus...

Devociones de Adviento de 06 de Diciembre de 2017 - Si tienes al Señor, lo tienes todo


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"Si tienes al Señor, lo tienes todo"

6 de Diciembre de 2017

... Booz engendró con Rut a Obed, y Obed a Yesé. Yesé engendró al rey David...
~ Mateo 1:5b-6a (RVC)

Rut es otra persona a quien uno no esperaría encontrar en el árbol genealógico de Jesús. Rut era extranjera, procedente de Moab--una pobre inmigrante en Belén que trabajaba duro en los campos para mantener a su suegra. Su historia está narrada en el libro que lleva su nombre.

Rut creía en el Señor, el Dios de Israel. Había aprendido a conocerlo en su primer matrimonio con un israelita que había muerto joven. Luego de su muerte, Rut se aferró al Señor y a la familia que le quedaba, y dejó su país para vivir en Israel. A esa altura, ya no tenía casi nada. Pero Dios la protegió y le proveyó todo--una casa, un esposo y una familia, y un lugar de honor entre los antepasados de Jesús.

¿Cómo es contigo? Sospecho que tú, al igual que tantos otros, puedes recordar un tiempo en que sentiste que no tenías casi nada. Quizás haya sido luego de perder el trabajo, tu casa, tu cónyuge, o las cosas materiales de las que tanto dependías. O quizás haya sido una pérdida emocional o social, algo así como haber perdido un ser querido, un amor, tu reputación, o la paz interior.

Esos momentos de pérdida nos hacen caer de rodillas y clamar: ¡Señor, ayúdame! Sabemos que no podemos ayudarnos a nosotros mismos, pero que Dios sí puede hacerlo y que lo va a hacer. Ese Dios que dejó de lado toda gloria, honor y poder y vino al mundo por nosotros como niño indefenso, nos va a ayudar. Nunca estamos fuera de su amor y de su mente.

Jesús, nuestro Salvador, nos ama profundamente. Ese amor es lo que lo llevó a sufrir, morir y resucitar. Él es nuestra vida, nuestra esperanza y nuestra paz. Cuando tenemos al Señor, lo tenemos todos.

ORACIÓN: Querido Señor, ayúdanos a refugiarnos siempre en ti, pues sólo en ti encontramos todo lo que necesitamos. Amén.

© Copyright 2017 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones. Que a través de estos devocionales, la Palabra de Dios te refresque en tu diario caminar.