Friday, December 8, 2017

Prayer of the Day for FRIDAY, December 8, 2017


O God, whose mighty Son was born in Bethlehem those days long ago, lead us to that same poor place, where Mary laid her tiny Child. And as we look on in wonder and praise, make us welcome him in all new life, see him in the poor, and care for his handiwork the earth, the sky and the sea. O God, bless us again in your great love. We pray for this through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Verse of the Day for FRIDAY, December 8, 2017


2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Read all of 2 Corinthians 8

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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 - Riches-to-Rags


Riches-to-Rags

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

In reality, the story of Jesus is not a rags-to-riches story; it is a riches-to-rags story. It is a story of leaving the glory of Heaven for this planet. Jesus could have been born in the most elegant mansion on the ritziest boulevard in Rome. He could have had aristocratic parents who boasted of their pedigree. He could have had the finest clothes from the most exclusive shops. He could have had legions of angels as an army of servants to respond to His every whim. But He had none of that. Instead, Jesus humbled Himself.

We read in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” God came into our world. He was like any other baby who needed to be cradled, needed to be nurtured, and needed to be protected. The Creator of the universe was born in a stable in Bethlehem.

Like everything else in the Christmas story, we have romanticized this aspect of it. I think, in many ways, we miss its raw, powerful meaning. This stable or barn (or maybe even cave) where Christ was born was cold and damp. It also would have smelled. God incarnate was born on the dirt floor of a filthy stable. Our Savior came not as a monarch draped in gold and silk, but as a baby wrapped in rags.

Jesus went from being a sovereign to a servant. He went from the glory of God to a stable filled with animals. It has been said that history swings on the hinge of the door of a stable in Bethlehem.

Think about what Jesus left to come to us. Jesus took His place in a manger so that we might have a home in Heaven.
O God, whose mighty Son was born in Bethlehem those days long ago, lead us to that same poor place, where Mary laid her tiny Child. And as we look on in wonder and praise, make us welcome him in all new life, see him in the poor, and care for his handiwork the earth, the sky and the sea. O God, bless us again in your great love. We pray for this through Christ our Lord. 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.
Think about what Jesus left to come to us.

Un Dia a la Vez - El amor de Dios en mi vida


El amor de Dios en mi vida

Así manifestó Dios su amor entre nosotros: en que envió a su Hijo unigénito al mundo para que vivamos por medio de él.
~ 1 Juan 4:9 (NVI)

Un día como hoy, esta servidora llegó a este mundo. Creo que por eso disfruto mucho de estas temporadas navideñas.

Aún recuerdo mi niñez sencilla, pero muy divertida, en mi natal Colombia. Había fuegos artificiales y disfrutaba de la compañía de mis amistades. En esa época, como buena católica, celebraba la conocida «Novena de Aguinaldos» con villancicos, el árbol de Navidad y, sin faltar, el pesebre, o como se conoce en algunos países, el nacimiento. A pesar de esta hermosa época, desconocía el verdadero significado de la Navidad, pues para muchos solo era una oportunidad de vacaciones, mientras que para otros era enfrascarse en las decoraciones navideñas. Así que un día, hace muchos años, comprendí el verdadero significado de la «Navidad».

La Navidad es hermosa y sé que en esos días surge en nuestro corazón una necesidad por la familia y un anhelo de comprarles regalos a los niños que los esperan con tanta ilusión.

A la hora de analizar esta hermosa estación del año, tú y yo debemos entender que Jesús es la verdadera razón de la Navidad. Cuando le abrimos nuestro corazón, nos convertimos en el pesebre donde nace el Salvador.

Por lo tanto, debemos darle gracias a Dios por su Hijo, Jesús, que vino a este mundo para darnos el regalo de la vida eterna.

Si aún no has tenido ese encuentro personal con Jesucristo, ¿por qué no permites que ese corazoncito bello que tienes se convierta hoy en un pesebre donde nacerá tu Salvador?

De ese modo, ¡tú también nacerás de nuevo!

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - LOSE THE FEAR OF DYING


LOSE THE FEAR OF DYING

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”

There is a famous book called The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. It is his contention that the whole of the western world is really a gigantic playground to distract us from ever facing the fact that we will all die! Thinking about death is all but forbidden. Preparing for it is seen as a sign of morbidity. We arrange for the elderly to die out of sight in hostels and hospitals. And huge multinational companies produce products that promise to keep the effects of aging at bay.

Inevitably, when we are too scared to face death we end up being a slave to it. Even Christians can show the same dread of it as others. But an encounter with the persecuted can go a long way to diffusing this sense of dread.

Over twenty years of reporting on the suffering church, I have interviewed literally hundreds of Christians who thought they were going to die for their faith. All of them—and I really do mean all of themexhibited two amazing characteristics: they experienced unspeakable peace and joy in the midst of the pain as they began to feel death draw near; and they were as surprised as anyone that they were not afraid of death at the time.

Take Pastor You Yong, kidnapped by Islamic extremists from his church outside Madiun, central Java in December 2001. Furious that his church was full of Muslim converts, the extremists showered him with questions, trying to provoke him to attack them. They beat him and finally held a long machete to his throat. He assumed he was about to die. But what was going on inside Pastor You? Deeper than all the pain or fear? This is how he put it. “I was amazed that throughout the ordeal I felt an incredible peace. I was also amazed at the answers I was able to give them. That verse came true—‘when you are brought to trial, do not worry about what to say, for when the time comes, you will be given what to say’ (Mt 10:19). The more they tried to provoke me, the more peace I felt.”

And so when death reaches out its icy hand even in more everyday ways—when the plane hits an air pocket, or the results of the suspected cancer scan are due—I remember the experiences of my persecuted friends and I am strengthened to think, If they have been where I am about to go, and still testify that Jesus gives unaccountable peace, well, it is no tragedy to tread this well-worn path. Their experiences in the face of death help to take the dread away.

Of course, I know all this from the Bible, where Paul says that to be with Christ is “far better.” And I have read that wonderful passage in Acts seven when Stephen has the face of an angel when he is stoned to death. But the truth comes with more power when a flesh-and-blood person who has faced death puts their arms around you and says, “You will have peace, and Jesus will be with you in the midst of it all.” Death just cannot be that bad if Jesus is that great!

RESPONSE: Today I will live in the peace of God that takes away the fear of dying.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the encouragement of the persecuted to trust You in life and death.

Men of the Bible - Pontius Pilate


Pontius Pilate

His name means: "One Armed with a Javelin"

His work: He was the Roman governor over the region of Judea.
His character: Pilate had all the trappings of power and leadership but was unwilling to exercise that influence for good.
His sorrow: He failed to stand for what was right and allowed an innocent man to go to his death.
His triumph: When Tiberius Caesar appointed Pilate governor of Judea, Pilate must have been delighted. Perhaps he thought that this was a step toward even greater authority. But his inability to lead denied him that future.
Key Scriptures: John 18

A Look at the Man

It was the ultimate paradox. Pilate was faced with two sobering options—neither would lead to a happy ending.

If he would listen to his conscience—and his wife's warning—and free Jesus, he would lose support among the religious elite. And releasing Jesus could have changed these men's verbal outcries into a physical revolt. Such an uprising would reflect poorly on his leadership. Tiberius Caesar might replace him because of such insurrection among his subjects.

But giving in to the people's demands meant that Pilate would be forced to deny his own heart. He knew Jesus was innocent. He knew that these men had arrested Jesus because of their seething jealousy over his popularity among the people. And he didn't need his wife to have a bad dream to confirm his apprehensions, but it did make things worse; now he would have to contend with her. This was Pilate's plight, but these are the predicaments of every leader—popularity or integrity, compromise or character.

As the governor of the land, Pilate certainly knew about Jesus' ministry. He may have received warnings from his own associates that Jesus was extremely popular among the people. He suspected that Jesus' message could be threatening to his regime, but he knew that Jesus' words and work were foreboding to the religious establishment. The priests and Pharisees were just jealous. They hated Jesus. But was he dangerous—worthy of capital punishment? Should Pilate sanction his execution just to appease these proud men?

Pilate's approach to this terrible dilemma was something we can understand. Once he had listened to the facts, his response was direct: "Jesus is innocent." Oh, how he hoped that approach would work and the religious leaders would shuffle out of his chambers in resignation.

When that didn't work, Pilate got philosophical. "What is truth?" he pondered aloud. Doesn't truth depend on the situation? Isn't truth sometimes true and sometimes not? Shouldn't group pressure or expediency or convenience have an effect on truth?

When Pilate saw that plain speaking and philosophy were not going to satisfy the people, he tried to dismiss himself from the responsibility of his decision by washing his hands. Then, in his final feeble attempt to assuage his guilt, he placed the blame on others. "This is your fault," he told the priests and Pharisees.

Pontius Pilate had a historic opportunity to do the right thing, but he buckled under the pressure. The heaviness of the situation forced him to acquiesce. As a result, he will forever be remembered as a defective leader, a man with no courage.

Someday Pilate would be replaced as the Roman governor of Judea. No longer would he have to deal with these tricky situations. No longer would he have to make the difficult decisions. And Pilate could continue to ignore his wife. He could even leave her and no longer deal with her opinions. But Pilate would never be able to quiet his conscience. He would never be able to escape the blood of an innocent man and the power of his own conflicted soul. A troubled heart and sleepless nights would be his lifelong companions.

Reflect On: Psalm 25
Praise God: For his mercy.
Offer Thanks: For the blood of Jesus Christ and his offer of pardon in spite of our sin and willful disobedience.
Confess: Any willingness to be swayed by the crowd to do—or think—the wrong thing, instead of doing what is right.
Ask God: To give you the courage to be faithful, to fill you with integrity and character that would be pleasing to him. Ask him to make you a worthy ambassador of his truth and his grace.

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 - When You’ve Lost Hope


When You’ve Lost Hope

Today’s Truth

“I will never leave you or forsake you”.
~ Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

Friend to Friend

Have you ever faced a tough circumstance and wondered, where are you God? That was the situation with many of Jesus’ followers after He was crucified and buried. They lost their hopes and dreams and didn’t know where to turn.

The same day that Peter and John discovered the empty tomb, two of the disciples were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  As the sacred city lay behind them, so did their hopes and dreams. While discussing the tragic events of the past weekend, another man appeared and began to walk along side them.

“What are you talking about?” the man asked.

“Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know about what happened over the past few days?

“What things?” the man asked.

Then the two disciples gave the traveler a blow-by-blow account of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and disappearance from the tomb. Their eyes were blinded by despair and didn’t realize that hope was walking right alongside them. All they saw was the tragedy, but they missed seeing Jesus walking on the dusty road with them.

When they reached the village where they were going, they urged this “stranger” to join them for dinner. When he was at the table, Jesus assumed the role of host and took the bread. He gave thanks, broke the loaf, and passed it to the men. At that point, I am sure a flood of memories returned to the men…memories of another meal where Jesus broke bread with His followers. But perhaps what opened their eyes to this man’s true identity were the nail-scarred hands that held the bread. “Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:31 NIV).

Perhaps you’ve traveled down your own dusty road to Emmaus, with circumstances leaving you confused, troubled, and depressed. If so, remember this my friend: Just because we cannot see Jesus or sense His presence does not mean that He is absent. He is walking the path with us. Jesus assures us with these words: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He gave His word. He gave His life.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I know that you are always with me. Forgive me when I whine about being all alone. Forgive me when I whine that nobody understands my problems. I know that You understand all things and that You are my hope Who is always walking right along the path with me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

How do you think the men felt when they realized that the man in their presence was Jesus?

What do you think the realization did to their dashed hopes and dreams?

How would the realization that Jesus is always walking along the path with you change your reaction to disappointments and broken dreams?

More from the Girlfriends

Sometimes life just doesn’t turn out like you hoped it would, and we have the scars to prove it. But our scars don’t have to be something we are ashamed of, no matter how we got them. Just as people recognized Jesus when they saw his scars, people will see Jesus when you share about yours…when you tell your story. Learn how to turn your pain into purpose, and your messes into your message. Release the power of your past and begin using what you’ve gone through for good with Your Scars are Beautiful to God: Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past.

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

Girlfriends in God

The Daily Readings for FRIDAY, December 8, 2017

Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Daily Readings

Amos 5:1-17
Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel: Fallen, no more to rise, is maiden Israel; forsaken on her land, with no one to raise her up. For thus says the Lord GOD: The city that marched out a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which marched out a hundred shall have ten left. For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: Seek me and live; but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beer-sheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing. Seek the LORD and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it. Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground! The one who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name, who makes destruction flash out against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress. They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate. Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time. Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord: In all the squares there shall be wailing; and in all the streets they shall say, "Alas! alas!" They shall call the farmers to mourning, and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing; in all the vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through the midst of you, says the LORD.

Jude 1:1-16
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance. Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great Day. Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in the same way these dreamers also defile the flesh, reject authority, and slander the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct. Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam's error for the sake of gain, and perish in Korah's rebellion. These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever. It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "See, the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him." These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage.

Matthew 22:1-14
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, 'Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.' But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

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.

LHM Advent Devotion - December 8, 2017 "THE WORD OF GOD"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"THE WORD OF GOD"

December 8, 2017

TEXT: And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."

And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."
~ Luke 1:18-20 (ESV)

I always feel sorry for Zechariah. Being mute for nine months is no mild punishment for a priest! The poor man had to carry out his responsibilities at the temple in Jerusalem without any voice at all-no prayers, no singing, no teaching, not even able to bless the people. And when he got home, he had to explain the whole thing to Elizabeth-without speaking. That must have been interesting. Zechariah refused to believe the angel's words, and so his own words were taken away.

But after John was born, on the day of his circumcision, God was merciful to Zechariah and restored his speech. This time Zechariah knew what to do! He immediately used his words to glorify God-and not for restoring his speech, not even for giving him the baby they had longed for. No, he praised Him for what hardly anybody realized was happening right that minute-that God was sending Jesus into the world:
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David,
as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old."
(Luke 1:68-70)
God was sending His own Son, His own Word, into the world to be our Savior. Jesus is called the Word of God for good reason-He is the One who makes God known to us, who embodies God among us, acting to save us. How do we know a man's thoughts? He communicates them to us through words. How do we know God's thoughts toward us? He has made them known through Jesus, His Word.

Because Jesus is truly man, we can understand Him. Because He is truly God, we know the Father's heart toward us.

THE PRAYER: O Word of God, thank You for coming to us and making Your home among us. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
I always feel sorry for Zechariah. Being mute for nine months is no mild punishment...

Devociones de Adviento de 08 de Diciembre de 2017 -


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"La palabra de Dios"

8 de Diciembre de 2017

Zacarías le preguntó al ángel: "¿Y cómo voy a saber que esto será así? ¡Yo estoy ya muy viejo, y mi esposa es de edad avanzada!" El ángel le respondió: "Yo soy Gabriel, y estoy en presencia de Dios. He sido enviado a hablar contigo para comunicarte estas buenas noticias. Pero como no has creído mis palabras, las cuales se cumplirán a su debido tiempo, ahora vas a quedarte mudo, y no podrás hablar hasta el día en que esto suceda".
~ Lucas 1:18-20 (RVC)

Zacarías me da lástima. ¡Estar mudo durante nueve meses no es un castigo ligero para un sacerdote! Habrá tenido que llevar a cabo sus tareas en el templo en Jerusalén sin poder orar, cantar, enseñar y bendecir a las personas. Y cuando regresaba a su casa, tenía que contarle a Elisabet todo lo que había hecho, sin poder hablar. Debe haber sido interesante. Zacarías se negó a creer las palabras del ángel y por ello Dios le quitó sus palabras.

Pero luego que Juan nació, en el día de su circuncisión, Dios tuvo misericordia de Zacarías y le restauró el habla. ¡Esta vez Zacarías sí supo qué hacer! Inmediatamente utilizó sus palabras para glorificar a Dios, pero no por haberle restaurado el habla o por haberle dado el hijo que tanto había deseado. No, lo alabó por algo que nadie se daba cuenta estaba sucediendo en ese momento... Dios estaba enviando a Jesús al mundo:

"Bendito sea el Señor, Dios de Israel,
porque ha venido a redimir a su pueblo.
Nos ha levantado un poderoso Salvador
en la casa de David, su siervo,
tal y como lo anunció en el pasado
por medio de sus santos profetas..." (Lucas 1:68-70)

Dios estaba enviando a su propio Hijo, su propia Palabra, al mundo para ser nuestro Salvador. Jesús es la Palabra de Dios porque él nos da a conocer a Dios, él es Dios con nosotros, entre nosotros, actuando para salvarnos. ¿Cómo sabemos lo que otra persona piensa? A través de sus palabras. ¿Cómo sabemos lo que Dios piensa? A través de Jesús, su Palabra.

Como Jesús es verdadero hombre, podemos comprenderlo. Y como es verdadero Dios, podemos conocer el corazón de Dios.

ORACIÓN: Palabra de Dios, te damos gracias por haber venido a habitar entre nosotros. Amén.

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