Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Daily Readings for SUNDAY, December 10, 2017 - 2nd Sunday in Advent


Opening Sentence

In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
~ Isaiah 40:3

Confession and Forgiveness

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
God is light; in him there in no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and son not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
~ John 1:5b-8

Most holy and merciful Father, We confess to you and to one another, that we have sinned against you by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not fully loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not always had in us the mind of Christ. You alone know how often we have grieved you by wasting your gifts, by wandering from your ways. Forgive us, we pray you, most merciful Father; And free us from our sin. Renew in us the grace and strength of your Holy Spirit, for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen

Sunday Morning Prayer
God, as you gave us the sun to lighten our days, so you have given us your Word to lighten our minds and our souls. I pray that you will pour out on me your Spirit as I pray today, that my heart and mind may be opened to your Word, and that I may learn and accept your will for my life.

Shine within my heart, loving God, the pure light of your divine knowledge; open the eyes of my mind and the ears of my heart to receive your Word, this day and always, Amen

The Lessons

Isaiah 40:1-11
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." A voice says, "Cry out!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
1   You have been gracious to your land, O LORD,
you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2   You have forgiven the iniquity of your people
and blotted out all their sins.
8   I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.
9   Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10   Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11   Truth shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12   The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,
and our land will yield its increase.
13   Righteousness shall go before him,
and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

2 Peter 3:8-15
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. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,

Mark 1:1-8
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'" John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."


Here ends the Readings

Click HERE to read today's Holy Gospel Lesson message

The Apostle's Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

Prayer of the Day
God, grant me the grace to be patient and vigilant in watching, waiting, and listening attentively, so that I won't miss Christ when he comes knocking at my door. Remove whatever hinders me from receiving the gifts which the Savior brings — Joy, peace, justice, mercy, and love. And let me always remember that these are gifts that are only received by giving; let me remember, during this season and throughout the year, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the outcast, the prisoner, the weak, and the defenseless, with my prayers and with my substance. In the name of Christ I pray, Amen


Let us bless the Lord. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God! Alleluia!

Closing Prayer
Now all glory to you, mighty God, who is able to keep me from falling away and will bring me with great joy into your glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to you who alone are God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are yours before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time, Amen

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
~ Numbers 6:22-27

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.

"Clear The Road " Sermon for SUNDAY, December 10, 2017 - 2nd Sunday in Advent


The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of  God.As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
~ Mark 1:1-8


"Clear The Road"
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen
How do we prepare for the Lord’s Coming? How did John prepare? How does the baptism of the Holy Spirit prepare us for His Coming? What do we need to clear out of our way back to God?

In ancient Rome the birthday of Emperors was proclaimed as good news. We too worship our politicians, but politics is not good news. Human beings boast great things, but in reality have no answers. The whole world is run by highly intelligent, very well-educated people who don't have a clue, because the real problems and their solutions are spiritual in nature, not carnal. Mark used familiar political language, but pointed to Christ not human political leaders. In contrast to this world's inability to solve its problems, “This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” as it says in Mark 1:1. That is real good news.

Babylon defeated nations and forced subject kingdoms to pay heavy tributes. Jerusalem rebelled against Babylonian rule and so were deported to Babylon. The Babylonian Captivity or Exile was a period of time when most Jews were deported from their land to Babylon. It began around 597 BC and ended during the reign of the Persian King Cyrus the Great around 539 BC. Modern Judaism descends from these captives. They tried to preserve their faith like a ghetto in a strange culture. They became very conscientious in their faith taking it to extremes. Babylon symbolizes worldly wealth without God (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:1-2; 18:9-10; 18:21).

The message of Mark 1:2-3 begins in Isaiah 40:1-11. God instructs his angels to comfort his people, to reassure Jerusalem that her punishment will soon be over. Angels are building a road for us from Babylon to heavenly Jerusalem bringing exiles home. We are on a journey from Babylon on an angel highway back to God. Everything in this Babylon is fake news. Only one thing is true: God's Word. The bringer of good news cries out and announces God's triumphant return, like a warrior returning with power, bringing a reward with him. He gathers the little lambs of His flock into His arms and gently leads His sheep.

How many baptisms are there? Mark 1:4-5, 8 mentions a baptism of repentance, a baptism in the Jordan and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere we read of a baptism of fire, the baptism of water, the baptism of John, and baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptism is like a washing (Acts 22:16) and a death (Romans 6:3-4). Jesus’ death on the cross was a baptism (Mark 10:38). Baptism is a spiritual circumcision (Colossians 2:11-15). Israel was baptized into Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2-5). However, there is essentially only one baptism (Ephesians 4:6) into Christ (Galatians 3:27).

Baptize literally means “to dip” but also non-literally we pass through the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:2), we wash dishes (Mark 7:4), Jesus was overwhelmed on the cross (Mark 10:38-39), the Old Testament contained ceremonial baptisms like sprinkling (Hebrews 9:10), and an outpouring of generosity is a baptism (Matthew 3:11). What does baptized in the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8) mean? Baptized with the Holy Spirit, Jesus sacrificed for us. A commercialized Christmas hides the real meaning of following the Christ child. If we claim we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and do not love by sacrificing for others, we are living a lie.

What do we need to clear out of our road back to heavenly Jerusalem? What do we need to clear out of the way for Christ to come? We have all been taken captive by Babylon. We have been deluded by the riches and glamour of an ungodly world. We have fallen into the world’s ways of wrong thinking and wrongdoing. Our Babylonian world is lost. He is coming to rescue us from Babylon and lead us on the road back to heavenly Jerusalem. Jesus said, I am the way. Are you coming?
God, grant me the grace to be patient and vigilant in watching, waiting, and listening attentively, so that I won't miss Christ when he comes knocking at my door. Remove whatever hinders me from receiving the gifts which the Savior brings — Joy, peace, justice, mercy, and love. And let me always remember that these are gifts that are only received by giving; let me remember, during this season and throughout the year, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the outcast, the prisoner, the weak, and the defenseless, with my prayers and with my substance. In the name of Christ I pray, Amen
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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 SUNDAY, December 10, 2017


God, grant me the grace to be patient and vigilant in watching, waiting, and listening attentively, so that I won't miss Christ when he comes knocking at my door. Remove whatever hinders me from receiving the gifts which the Savior brings — Joy, peace, justice, mercy, and love. And let me always remember that these are gifts that are only received by giving; let me remember, during this season and throughout the year, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the outcast, the prisoner, the weak, and the defenseless, with my prayers and with my substance. In the name of Christ I pray, Amen

Verse of the Day for SUNDAY, December 10, 2017


Deuteronomy 18:15 (NIV) The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.

Read all of Deuteronomy 18

Listen to Deuteronomy 18

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Un Dia a la Vez - Lo que no entendemos de Dios


Lo que no entendemos de Dios

Ahora conozco de manera imperfecta, pero entonces conoceré tal y como soy conocido.

Si lo analizamos, es imposible entender a Dios en su totalidad. Estoy segura que muchas veces tú, al igual que yo, le has preguntado: «Señor, ¿por qué suceden tantas cosas malas? ¿Por qué, Dios mío, permitiste que sucediera esto?». Incluso, algunas cosas nos parecen más injustas que otras.

Sin embargo, en muchas ocasiones no hay respuesta de parte de Dios. Así que empezamos a juzgarlo, a refutarlo y, en el peor de los casos, nos peleamos con Él.

Se han escrito libros muy buenos acerca de las cosas que no entendemos de Dios y creo que, aunque se sigan escribiendo y predicando, nadie tiene la respuesta a las cosas incomprensibles de nuestro Padre celestial. Lo que yo entendí, y lo aplico a mi vida, es que aunque no comprenda ciertas cosas que me suceden, o que suceden a mi alrededor, sé que todo tiene un propósito por el cual lo permitió Dios.

Querido amigo, si estás viviendo algo que aún no entiendes, no cuestiones al Señor y le preguntes: «¿Por qué?». En su lugar, pregúntale: «¿Para qué?». Nadie puede entender por completo los misterios de Dios. Quizá algún día, en su presencia, podamos preguntarle el porqué de todo lo que no entendemos hoy.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - GOD’S WORK IN CHANGING LIVES


GOD’S WORK IN CHANGING LIVES

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

The more you travel, the more you realize that God is at work changing lives all over the globe. Whether people have committed crimes against God (rebellion, blasphemy, hatred etc.) or crimes against society (murder, violence, theft etc.) or crimes against themselves (shame, guilt, despair etc.), He is able to bring about a complete transformation of their lives and fill them with His Holy Spirit.

Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) teaching partner, Jim Cunningham, was sharing in a SSTS seminar with rural pastors in Colombia, South America. After the final session, Rauel (not his real name) approached Jim, almost shyly. With a warm smile and moist eyes, he extended his hand for what Jim thought was a handshake, but instead he gently offered a small piece of paper with some writing.

“For you, Santiago.”

They hugged each other. Between Rauel’s “No English” and Jim’s “No Spanish” there was an unspoken bond of Christian love. They said their “good-byes” pointing heavenward as if to say, “See you again my brother!”

Jim’s interpreter later translated the note. It read:
May the Lord bless your life and enrich your ministry. And may the angel of the Lord always encamp around you and all your family and nation. Take with you my remembrances and those of Colombia to the people of Canada.

Rauel
“Do you know who Brother Rauel is?” the interpreter asked. Jim shook his head “No.” “He used to be a guerrilla leader against the government forces,” said his interpreter. “He came to faith as a follower of Jesus Christ a while back and this is his first time gathering with our pastors and leadership team. We earnestly prayed and had to have God’s peace before inviting him here.”

Jim concluded, “What an amazing story of God’s grace. God is changing hearts—one at a time. Keep praying for peace in Colombia!”

RESPONSE: Today I will praise God for His ministry in my life—and others—making changes and renewing my heart.

PRAYER: Lord, we continue to pray for peace in countries like Colombia and in the hearts of those who struggle with injustice and inequality. And make me a totally new creation, I pray.

LHM Advent Devotion - December 10, 2017 "AN EXTRA BOOST"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"AN EXTRA BOOST"

December 10, 2017

TEXT: (Gabriel said) "And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God."
~ Luke 1:36-37 (ESV)

Have you ever taken a little child to wash his hands or get a drink of water from the drinking fountain? If so, you've probably had to boost him up. Toddlers are too small to reach it on their own. But a boost from an adult knee or a lift under the armpits, and they're good to go.

I rather think this is what God was doing with Mary when the angel told her about Elizabeth's pregnancy. Mary was handling the conversation well; she did not reject what the angel told her, and all she asked was how this baby would happen. But God was asking her to believe one of the greatest miracles in human history. And so, even though she didn't ask, He gave her a little boost-He told her about Elizabeth's pregnancy, which was a fact she could go and see for herself, and He also provided her with a safe place to stay while she adjusted to the incredible news of her own pregnancy.

See how kind God is! Mary didn't ask for a sign, like Zechariah did, but God gave her one anyway. Mary didn't ask for protection against her parents' anger or Joseph's grief. But God provided anyway. He gave her that extra boost that made an impossible situation just a bit easier.

When God calls us to serve or to suffer in ways that are too much for us, we can ask Him to give us a boost in our faith as well. The father of a troubled child did this when he said to Jesus, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24b) Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Read God's Word, the Bible-that is a time-tested place where people find help in time of trouble. Come to the Lord's Supper. And remember your Savior loves you dearly and has said to you that He will never leave you nor forsake you (see Hebrews 13:5).

THE PRAYER: Lord Holy Spirit, help me when my faith is weak and the challenges are great. Strengthen me in You. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Have you ever taken a little child to wash his hands or get a drink of water from the drinking fountain?

LHM Advent Devotion - December 10, 2017 "Una ayuda extra"


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"Una ayuda extra"

10 de Diciembre de 2017

"También tu parienta Elisabet, la que llamaban estéril, ha concebido un hijo en su vejez, y ya está en su sexto mes de embarazo. ¡Para Dios no hay nada imposible!"
~ Lucas 1:36-37 (RVC)

¿Alguna vez has llevado a un niño pequeño a lavarse las manos o a beber de una fuente de agua? Si lo has hecho, probablemente hayas tenido que alzarlo porque por sí mismo no podía alcanzar el agua. Sin embargo, con una pequeña ayuda extra tuya, logró hacerlo.

Se me ocurre pensar que eso era lo que Dios estaba haciendo con María, cuando el ángel le contó sobre el embarazo de Elisabet. María había aceptado bien la noticia que el ángel le había dado de que iba a tener un hijo. Pero Dios le estaba pidiendo que creyera uno de los mayores milagros en la historia de la humanidad. Y es por ello que, a pesar de no haberlo pedido, Dios le dio una pequeña ayuda: le contó sobre el embarazo de Elisabet, un hecho que ella podía ir y ver por sí misma. Además, eso le proveería un lugar seguro donde estar mientras se acostumbraba a la increíble noticia de su propio embarazo.

¿Puedes ver cuán considerado es Dios? Al contrario de Zacarías, María no pidió una señal; sin embargo, Dios se la dio. María no pidió protección de la ira de sus padres o del dolor de José. Pero Dios se la proveyó. Dios le dio esa pequeña ayuda extra que hizo que una situación imposible fuera un poco más fácil.

Cuando Dios nos llama a servir o sufrir en formas que nos parecen imposibles, podemos pedirle que nos dé una ayuda extra en nuestra fe. Eso hizo el padre de un joven con problemas, cuando le dijo a Jesús: "¡Creo! ¡Ayúdame en mi incredulidad!" (Marcos 9:24b). Pídele al Espíritu Santo que te ayude. Lee la Palabra de Dios, el lugar donde las personas de todos los tiempos han encontrado ayuda en sus momentos de necesidad. Participa de la Cena del Señor. Y recuerda que tu Salvador, quien te ama inmensamente, te ha prometido: "No te desampararé, ni te abandonaré" (Hebreos 13:5b).

ORACIÓN: Espíritu Santo, fortalece mi fe cuando flaquea ante los muchos desafíos de la vida. Amén.

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