Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, December 9, 2017

The Question about Paying Taxes
Daily Readings

Amos 5:18-27
Alas for you who desire the day of the LORD! Why do you want the day of the LORD? It is darkness, not light; as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. Is not the day of the LORD darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sakkuth your king, and Kaiwan your star-god, your images, which you made for yourselves; therefore I will take you into exile beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.

Jude 1:17-25
But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; for they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts." It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies. Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Matthew 22:15-22
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

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, December 9, 2017


Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever faithful to your promises and ever close to your Church: the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's coming and looks forward with longing to his return at the end of time. Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow, for he is Lord for ever and ever.
Amen

Verse of the Day for SATURDAY, December 9, 2017


Luke 12:51 (NIV) Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.

Read all of Luke 12

Listen to Luke 12

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 Conflict of Christmas


The Conflict of Christmas

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
~ Luke 12:51 (NIV)

This may come as a shock to you, but the real Christmas story is not about love, peace, harmony, and gathering with family around a crackling fire. The real Christmas story is actually about conflict. It always has been, and it always will be.

One of the unexpected passages in the Bible that deals with the subject of Christmas is found in Revelation 12, where we have the picture of a woman being pursued by a powerful dragon who seeks her death. As she is preparing to give birth to a child, the dragon hovers over her, wanting to destroy the baby. The woman is a picture of Israel, the child is Jesus Christ, and the dragon is Satan.

That is Christmas from a heavenly perspective, and it gives us the big picture of what was really happening when God sent His Son into the world. The devil opposed it and wanted to stop His birth. And really, you can take that story and see how it is still in play today.

Hostility toward Christmas seems to escalate a little more every year. More nativity scenes are being removed from public places, Christmas carols have been prohibited in many places, and atheists have put up billboards attacking the Christian faith. What’s more, many today don’t even want the word Christmas used. These are all symptomatic of the conflict of Christmas.

Jesus did not come to bring a mind-numbing peace on Earth that is devoid of truth. The message to the shepherds on the night Christ was born was, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

What does that mean? It means the only way we will have peace on Earth is when we are pleasing to God.
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever faithful to your promises and ever close to your Church: the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's coming and looks forward with longing to his return at the end of time. Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen
In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny


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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.
Have you noticed hostility towards Christmas escalating?

Un Dia a la Vez - Cambios repentinos


Cambios repentinos

El Señor dice: «Yo te instruiré, yo te mostraré el camino que debes seguir; yo te daré consejos y velaré por ti.
~ Salmo 32:8 (NVI)

Nadie en este mundo puede estar preparado para un cambio. Por lo general, las pruebas nos sorprenden y nos estremecen.

Sé que algunos atraviesan cambios que nunca esperaron, y en vez de acordarse de Dios y saber que Él tiene el control, maldicen su propia vida y ponen a Dios como el malo.

Quiero que sepas que no todos los cambios vienen de Dios, ni del enemigo, aunque hay quienes piensan que es por mala suerte.

Muchas veces somos nosotros mismos lo que propiciamos esos cambios. Si se trata del trabajo, quizá se debiera a que no hacíamos al cien por cien lo que se nos mandaba. En ocasiones, tenemos actitudes que perjudican nuestra situación laboral, así que caemos en chismes, malas reacciones, incumplimiento y todo eso afecta.

Al nivel de la iglesia, se reflejan esas mismas actitudes. No hay sencillez, sino rebeldía de querer hacer lo que se nos da la gana. Olvidamos que si estamos en un ministerio, nos debemos a ellos en honrar, sujetarnos y simplemente servir.

Reflexionemos, pues, y hagamos una evaluación de cómo somos y en qué esferas necesitamos cambiar.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzó

Standing Strong Through the Storm - OUR SPIRITS BLOSSOM WHEN WE SING


OUR SPIRITS BLOSSOM WHEN WE SING

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
~ Psalm 68:6 (NIV)

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

Chinese evangelist, Mrs Yang, was visited by another full time preacher who was very downcast. The preacher wanted to buy a tape player, but had no money. Mrs Yang sat down and just began to sing to him. Her voice was deep and scratchy, the tune barely discernible, the words simple: I am a wanderer, my home is in heaven/ Life is fleeting/ Our home is in heaven/ In this world we have many trials/ And sadness and sickness/ True happiness is not in this world/ But in heaven.

Mrs Yang sang as if before the Lord himself. Every word poured out from her core with total conviction. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her hands clenched the air, and she beat time on her hip. Soon the visiting preacher had joined in, and I watched them, roaring out the hymn together, smiles over both their faces. The preacher left, still with no money for his longed for tape player, but refreshed and encouraged.

Then again, I watched one morning as Mrs. Yang went out into the hills to pray. I followed her at a discreet distance. First she prayed for twenty minutes, and then she sang, walking around, for another twenty minutes. For the next hour she read her Bible, making notes, planning the day’s sermons. After that she sang again, for another half hour.

I confessed I had been spying on her, and asked “Why do you sing so much when there is no one to hear?” She said, “My father once told me, ‘One of the sweet things about the Christian life is that you will do things because they are commanded, and then you will spend the rest of your life gaining deeper insight into why God’s commands are so good.’ So singing is a command. In the Psalms we are constantly exhorted to sing praises to our God. But as for why, I confess it is one of those wonderful mysteries my father told me about. You see, while in prison, I could pray and read scripture, but nothing raised my spirits like singing. Maybe it’s because singing somehow concentrates all of the body on the praise of God, but I have found it essential to the maintenance of a positive spirit.”

Then she looked embarrassed. I said, “What is it? You were about to say something, but you have gone all reticent.” She replied, “Well, it’s just that an old lady told me something that really sums up the main reason I sing. She said, ‘Our spirits are like flowers, and song is the sun. Just as flowers only truly open when the sun shines, so our spirits only blossom when we sing.’ I believe that. I don’t know how, but it’s true. Since my prison cell, I cannot do without song, and I am very frightened that as China gets more open, and the churches get more organized, we are going to leave the singing to the professionals. This would be terrible. The only way you can have a full blossoming spirit is to sing to it.”

RESPONSE: Today I will make my spirit blossom positively by singing to the Lord in the Spirit.

PRAYER: Ask God to impact all Christians with this valuable insight of singing praises to Him.

NIV Devotionals for Couples - Family Abuse and Rescue


Family Abuse and Rescue

2 Kings 11:1–16

But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered.
~ 2 Kings 11:2 (NIV)

Until a few years ago, I was only marginally aware of this emotionally powerful story about Joash. It is, after all, stuck in the middle of the long section of 1 and 2 Kings that many of us sometimes, um, skim.

At any rate, we read here about King Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, who had begun killing off the royal family so that she could rule as queen. Jehosheba, Ahaziah’s sister, saw what was going on and rescued Ahaziah’s young son Joash, hiding him and his nurse at the temple. Joash remained there for six years, finally emerging when it was time for him to be crowned as king.

What first gripped me about this story was Athaliah, a wicked matriarch of fairy-tale proportions. Can’t you just see her as the Wicked Witch of the West? Once I tore myself away from that specter, I noticed how complicated her family was. On the one hand, this group of relatives was truly dysfunctional (they were, after all, related to the infamous family of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel). They were so dysfunctional that a grandmother began killing off her own grandchildren—her own descendants!—so she could grab the throne. Athaliah makes my overbearing grandmother look like a wimp.

On the other hand, the family wasn’t all bad. Joash’s aunt, Jehosheba, intervened to rescue the little boy and hide him till he was old enough to be king. That’s a powerful illustration of how families that contain violent and destructive kooks and abusers can also contain courageous and self-sacrificing heroes.

I can relate to the story of Joash because my own aunts played such a huge role in my growing-up years. While never in danger of being killed, I sometimes felt like I didn’t fit in with my parents and sister. My aunts stepped into that gap to nurture me, to explain the weird Winner family mysteries to me, and to help me feel like I belonged. Now that I’m an adult, my aunts continue to be my cherished confidants.

My own aunts—not to mention Aunt Jehosheba—remind me what a blessing extended family can be. They help me understand how important it is not to get so focused on our nuclear families that we forget our wider kith and kin. For some of us, extended families may not be biological; they may be in-laws, neighbors, friends or church family.

I certainly hope my own little family is never as destructive and broken as Joash’s. But I would be fooling myself to think that my husband and I are perfect parents or that we can do the job of raising our children by ourselves. We need others to help us do that. By looking outside the walls of our own home to our relatives and church family, Griff and I will help ensure that our own bad tendencies are caught, checked and corrected by others who love us and ours.

Lauren Winner

Let’s Talk
  • Thinking about each other’s families, which people are the dysfunctional or difficult ones? Who are the heroes? How do all of these people influence our marriage?
  • Are we as a couple open to intervention, love, even rebuke from friends or extended family? If we have children how do we encourage relationships between them and other adults in our family whom we love and trust?
  • Have we ever acted as someone else’s Jehosheba, stepping in to help the child of a friend or relative? What have we learned from this experience?

LHM Advent Devotion - December 9, 2017 "HOW?"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"HOW?"

December 9, 2017

TEXT: And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you ..."
~ Luke 1:34-35a (ESV)

It was a very unexpected visit. Not only did the angel drop in suddenly, but he came with a message the Bible normally reserves for childless women married for years, like Sarah or Hannah: "You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son" (Luke 1:31a). That wasn't what Mary expected to hear!

So she questioned it-not disbelieving, but rather wanting to know how this was going to work out, given that she was a virgin. Should she get married suddenly, or what? And the angel respected that and answered her-Yes, we are talking about a miracle here. The Spirit of God will make it happen. And the baby will be holy, the Son of God.

How different this is from Zechariah's meeting with the same angel! He also asked the question "How?" How could he be sure it would really happen since he and his wife were too old to have children? But his "how" was a how of doubt; he just couldn't wrap his mind around the idea. And the angel, with complete justice, pointed out that hey, you're talking to an angel right this minute, and not just any angel-one that stands in the presence of God. Isn't that enough proof for you? And promptly gave him nine months of silence to think about the error of his ways.

It is hard to go on believing without seeing, day after day after day. And yet God does keep His promises at the proper time. The Lord works His wonders according to His promise, whether we trust like Mary or doubt like Zechariah. Our doubts may lead to trouble for us, but they will never prevent God from keeping His promises of salvation.

How? God says: "Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you" (Isaiah 35:4b). He comes as a newborn baby, lying in a manger. He comes as a man, walking to suffering and death in Jerusalem. He comes as the risen Christ who promises to be with us always.

THE PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for working out salvation for us in spite of our fears and doubts. Help me to trust in You with all my heart. Amen.

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

Devociones de Adviento de 09 de Diciembre de 2017 - "¿Cómo?"


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"¿Cómo?"

9 de Diciembre de 2017

Pero María le dijo al ángel: "¿Y esto cómo va a suceder? ¡Nunca he estado con un hombre!" El ángel le respondió: "El Espíritu Santo vendrá sobre ti, y el poder del Altísimo te cubrirá con su sombra..."
~ Lucas 1:34-35 (RVC)

Fue una visita totalmente inesperada. El ángel no sólo se apareció de golpe, sino que traía un mensaje que la Biblia usualmente reserva para las mujeres que llevan años de matrimonio y aún no tienen hijos, como Sara o Ana. "Vas a quedar encinta, y darás a luz un hijo..." (Lucas 1:31a). ¡Eso no era lo que María esperaba oír!

María lo cuestionó, pero no por no creerlo, sino por querer saber cómo iba a ser, dado que todavía era virgen. ¿Debía casarse inmediatamente? El ángel respetó su cuestionamiento y le hizo saber que se trataba de un milagro: el Espíritu de Dios se encargará de hacerlo; el Niño será santo, será el Hijo de Dios.

¡Qué diferente es este encuentro, del de Zacarías con el mismo ángel! Zacarías también quiso saber cómo iba a suceder lo que el ángel le había anunciado, ya que tanto él como su esposa eran demasiado mayores para concebir hijos. Pero su '¿cómo?' implicaba duda: no podía creer que algo así fuera posible. Entonces el ángel le hizo ver que no estaba hablando con un ángel cualquiera, sino con uno que estaba en presencia de Dios. ¿Acaso eso no era prueba suficiente?

Es difícil creer cuando no se puede ver. Sin embargo, a su debido tiempo, Dios cumple sus promesas. El Señor obra sus maravillas de acuerdo a sus promesas, sea que confiemos como María o dudemos como Zacarías. Nuestras dudas podrán causarnos problemas, pero nunca impedirán que Dios cumpla sus promesas de salvación.

¿Cómo? Dios dice: "Esfuércense y no teman. ¡Miren! Aquí viene su Dios, para castigar a sus enemigos como merecen. Dios mismo viene, y él los salvará" (Isaías 35:4). Viene como recién nacido acostado en un pesebre en Belén. Viene como hombre camino al sufrimiento y la muerte en Jerusalén. Viene como el Cristo resucitado que promete estar con nosotros siempre.

ORACIÓN: Querido Padre, gracias por obrar nuestra salvación a pesar de nuestros miedos y dudas. Ayúdanos a confiar en ti de todo corazón. Amén.

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