Monday, December 11, 2017

The Daily Readings for MONDAY, December 11, 2017

The Question about the Resurrection
Daily Readings

Amos 7:1-9
This is what the Lord GOD showed me: he was forming locusts at the time the latter growth began to sprout (it was the latter growth after the king's mowings). When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, "O Lord GOD, forgive, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!" The LORD relented concerning this; "It shall not be," said the LORD. This is what the Lord GOD showed me: the Lord GOD was calling for a shower of fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said, "O Lord GOD, cease, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!" The LORD relented concerning this; "This also shall not be," said the Lord GOD. This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said, "See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."

Revelation 1:1-8
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Matthew 22:23-33
The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.' Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman herself died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her." Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is God not of the dead, but of the living." And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.

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 MONDAY, December 11, 2017


Father, just as You sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, help me to clear the path in my heart, too. Show me the distractions in my life that block me from all-out worship of You this Advent. Lord, I await Your coming! As I celebrate the first Advent––the first coming––I look toward the day where I will see You face to face. I imagine what it will be like. Give me a heart, Lord, that looks for Your coming on a daily basis. Help me to live my life where I'm constantly seeking Your presence. My offering to You today is my righteous life for I know I am only clean because of Jesus. Show me today how I need to be refined, purified, forgiven. Give me the strength to ask for forgiveness and to then change my ways.
Amen

Verse of the Day for MONDAY, December 11, 2017


Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Read all of Isaiah 7

Listen to Isaiah 7

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 Season Of Expectation And Waiting


The Season Of Expectation And Waiting

“See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm.”
~ Isaiah 40:10 (NIV)

Helen Steiner Rice wrote a poem titled, “What Is Christmas?”. A few lines are: “Is it just a day...at the end of the year? A (joyful) holiday filled...with merry good cheer? A season for presents...both taking and giving? A time to indulge in the pleasures of living?...Have we closed our eyes...And turned our eyes from “the bright star above?”

For many people the Christmas season means the excitement of putting up either the live or artificial tree with their treasured decorations placed perfectly upon the branches. Their homes both inside and outside have festive decorations to celebrate the upcoming occasion. The cards are being addressed to be mailed to friends and/or family. The shopping list has been made and the names are ready to be checked off one by one. The oven is being kept busy baking cookies which is filling your home with a lovely aroma.

In today’s society, for God’s people, the Advent-Christmas season often becomes more and more difficult to anticipate and celebrate. Each year as your eyes look around in the stores they are decorated in non-religious decorations with non-religious Christmas music blaring in your ears, and most have eliminated the traditional religious items from their shelves in their “holiday” sections. Websites, newspapers, and TV barrages you with advertising for “holiday shopping”. You are encouraged to “shop until you drop”.

The Advent-Christmas season for Christians helps to keep their thoughts centered on Jesus Christ. The excitement of the season brings to them the expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and also encourages them to continue to be alert for the second coming of the Messiah. For believers, this is the ancient and true meaning of Advent-Christmas as it keeps their eyes on “the bright star above”.

Be happy and merry this year as you celebrate the true reason for the Advent-Christmas season, and that is Jesus Christ.
Father, just as You sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, help me to clear the path in my heart, too. Show me the distractions in my life that block me from all-out worship of You this Advent. Lord, I await Your coming! As I celebrate the first Advent––the first coming––I look toward the day where I will see You face to face. I imagine what it will be like. Give me a heart, Lord, that looks for Your coming on a daily basis. Help me to live my life where I'm constantly seeking Your presence. My offering to You today is my righteous life for I know I am only clean because of Jesus. Show me today how I need to be refined, purified, forgiven. Give me the strength to ask for forgiveness and to then change my ways. 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.
What Is Christmas? Is it just a day...at the end of the year?

Un Dia a la Vez - Lo único eterno


Lo único eterno

Más bien, acumulen para sí tesoros en el cielo, donde ni la polilla ni el óxido carcomen, ni los ladrones se meten a robar.
~ Mateo 6:20 (NIV)

¡Qué consuelo saber que aunque nuestra madre y nuestro padre nos abandonen, Dios nunca nos abandonará! Esta es una hermosa promesa que vemos cumplida en cada uno de los que han experimentado el abandono. En realidad, Dios se encarga de recogerlos en sus brazos y decirles: «Tranquilos, no teman, yo estoy con ustedes».

Las cosas eternas vienen de Dios. Todo lo que vemos en esta tierra, trabajos, bienes y demás, son extras, pues en cuanto partamos de este mundo, «nada» nos podremos llevar.

Por eso sabiamente la Palabra dice: «No acumulen para sí tesoros en la tierra» (Mateo 6:19), pues nuestro corazón se puede dañar a causa del dinero que algún día tendremos que abandonar.

Amigos, Dios nos conoce a cada uno de nosotros a la perfección y puede saber si nuestro corazón está dañado por el dinero o las riquezas. Ahora bien, con esto no quiero decir que no puedes ser próspero y mantener un estilo de vida como mereces por ser hijo del Dueño del oro y de la plata.

No obstante, si tus riquezas valen más, ocupan el primer lugar en tu corazón y han desplazado a Dios, tienes invertido el orden de estos principios.

Hoy es tu oportunidad de rendir esta esfera de tu vida a Dios y Él, que es grande y poderoso, te ayudará..

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - DELIVERANCE COMES THROUGH ENDURANCE


DELIVERANCE COMES THROUGH ENDURANCE

…if we endure, we will also reign with him…

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

Christian testimonies on the whole tend to be dominated by those who experienced wonderful deliverances: deliverances of healing, from cancer or other life threatening diseases, or deliverances from debt, or romance less marriages. Even when it comes to reporting on the persecuted, we read of Chinese house church leaders released from the grip of a deadly fever, or border guards with eyes miraculously blinded to the Bibles sitting in plain view on the back seat.

Yet it has to be said that deliverance stories—though they tend to grab the headlines—are not the norm. A dear old Christian in Beijing used to say to me, “Remember, for every deliverance story you hear, there are a hundred endurance stories.” He was right. The story of the persecuted is primarily one of endurance.

I never saw this principle better illustrated than in the story of an old Chinese woman known throughout the world as “Auntie Mabel.” A doctor in Beijing, she was well known for her bright Christian witness. She never married in order to look after a sick brother. Her family was wealthy. They lived in a large house in central Beijing. All that changed abruptly in 1949. Her large house marked her out as one of the landlord class. She was evicted from her house and forced to live in a garden shed, with just a stove, two deck chairs and an old bed.

The Red Guards—teenagers who were given power to direct the Cultural Revolution—began to visit her, beating her up, parading her in the streets, and forcing her to wear a placard with her crimes written on them. So thorough were the Red Guards that they erected a large sign outside her house declaring her a pariah because she had distributed “imperialistic literature.” Mabel was shunned by neighbors, victimized daily by her work gang, and regularly beaten by Red Guards.

Many years later, she knew why she endured all this. In the early eighties, after Mao died, Mabel began to receive a stream of visitors saying, “During the Cultural Revolution, there was a large sign outside your house full of your crimes. One of them was that you had distributed Bibles. So I’m here on the chance that you have some left.”

Amazingly that sign which made her life such a misery became the means of a new ministry. It kept people away from her during the Cultural Revolution, but afterwards, after she had endured, it drew them. A number of high-ranking members of the Communist Party in China today owe their faith to her endurance.

She reflected, “It’s been nice to know why. It helps my faith. But it was hard. Every day was hard. I can’t say I saw Jesus, or even felt him close most of the time. I just got the strength to keep going, and that was enough.”

God can deliver us by transforming a situation, but more often He delivers by giving us the strength to endure the situation. That way, others are transformed as well as ourselves.

RESPONSE: Today I will endure all challenges knowing that God has a purpose and I am in His hands.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for saints like Aunty Mabel who are such an inspiration and testimony.

Women of the Bible - Lydia


Lydia

Her name signifies that she was a woman of Lydia, a region in Asia Minor

Her character: A Gentile adherent of Judaism, she was a successful businesswoman who sold a type of cloth prized for its purple color. As head of her household, she may have been either widowed or single. So strong was her faith that her entire household followed her example and was baptized. She extended hospitality to Paul and his companions, even after their imprisonment.
Her sorrow: To see Paul and Silas beaten and thrown into prison for the sake of the gospel she had embraced.
Her joy: That God's Spirit directed Paul and his companions to Macedonia, enabling her and others at Philippi to hear the gospel for the first time.
Key Scriptures: Acts 16:6-40

Her Story

The wind rustled the branches overhead until they became a swaying canopy whose shadow danced across the circle of women bowed in prayer. It didn't matter that Philippi had too few Jews to support a synagogue; the river's edge had become their place of worship, a green sanctuary where they gathered each Sabbath to pray.

Lydia listened as a stranger from Tarsus invoked the familiar words of the Shema: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Such prayers were like a gust of wind, fanning her longing. A Gentile who had come to Philippi from Asia Minor, Lydia was a prominent businesswoman who sold fine cloth to those who could afford it. Though not a Jew, she wanted to know this God powerful enough to part the sea yet tender enough to yearn for the love of his people.

Paul did not stop with the traditional Shema; instead, he spoke of a God whose Son, Jesus, had been murdered for love. This Jesus had risen from the grave after suffering the most agonizing death imaginable. He was Messiah, the merciful and holy One who had come to save God's people.

The women sat quietly as Paul told the story. Even the branches overhead had stopped their noisy rustling. But in the stillness Lydia felt a strong wind rushing through her. Tears rolled down her cheeks even though she felt like singing. Afterward, she and her household were baptized in the Gangites River, near Philippi. Lydia insisted that Paul and Silas (and probably Timothy and Luke) accept her hospitality. Her home may have become the very center of the church in Philippi.

Philippi seemed an unlikely place to plant the gospel. It had been named for Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, who had been attracted to the region by gold-bearing mountains to the north of the city. Now a prosperous Roman colony located on the main highway linking the eastern provinces to Rome, its citizens included large numbers of retired Roman soldiers. Despite its size, however, Philippi hadn't even enough Jews to provide the requisite quorum of ten reliable males to form a synagogue—and it had always been Paul's habit to preach first in the synagogue. Even so, Philippi did have its group of praying Jewish and Gentile women.

Interestingly, Paul had not planned to visit Philippi but had been on his way to Asia when he felt constrained by the Holy Spirit to turn aside. Soon afterward, he had a vision in which a man of Macedonia begged him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Days later, he found himself on the riverbank, preaching to the women who had gathered there for prayer.

Shortly after Lydia's conversion, she heard news that her houseguests, Paul and Silas, had been whipped and thrown into prison. Paul's crime had been to drive an evil spirit from a slave girl who had been harassing them. Upset at the loss of profits from her fortune-telling, the girl's owners dragged Paul and Silas before the city magistrates, claiming, "These men are Jews and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice."

That night, with their feet in stocks, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God while the other prisoners listened. About midnight an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison so violently that the doors flew open and the chains of the prisoners fell off. As a result, the jailer and his whole household were converted. After he was released, Paul returned to Lydia's home for a short while.

When Lydia said good-bye to the apostle and his companions as they continued on their missionary journey, she may have remembered the words of his accusers: "These men are throwing our city into an uproar." Indeed, God had thrown the entire region into an uproar from which it would never recover.

Lydia has the distinction of being Paul's first convert in Europe and the first member of the church at Philippi, a community that later became a source of great consolation to the apostle when he was imprisoned. Perhaps her prayers, joined with those of the other women gathered at the riverbank, helped prepare the way for the gospel to be planted in Europe.

Her Promise

Lydia's life reveals a God who longs for relationship with his people. Lydia's openness to the truths Paul preached was not her own doing; God saw her hunger for him, and he met her deepest need—her need for him. He is still touching hearts today. The longings you feel for intimacy with him, the emptiness you experience when you've tried everything else and still hunger, the burning need you have for wholeness—these can only be satisfied when you start with the Alpha and end with the Omega, Jesus Christ, your beginning and your end.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda (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 - Exhausting the Best


Exhausting the Best

Today’s Truth

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him …
~ Psalm 103:11 (ESV)

Friend to Friend

I stood on the back porch just waiting. I was making my family’s favorite pizza and the recipe calls for cooking the dough on the grill. Grilling makes the sticky mixture bubble up and crisp along the edges like it would in a wood-fired oven at a nice restaurant. You have to wait right beside the grill though, because if you walk off and leave, you’ll have a burnt mess of crust on your hands. So, I stood and waited by the smoke billowing out the sides of the grill, surveying the yard and deck around me.

“Lord, I love this house. I love this deck. I love these neighbors. I know you’re asking us to move to a different house, but I really, really love this one. I mean, I’ll do it…but still. I love it here.” I don’t know so much that I was arguing with God. I was maybe just asking Him to make greater sense of it all for now. Trying to get my mind around the complications of God calling us out of a situation that I love and into one that I think I will love just feels so nebulous.

I sighed and flipped the dough, closing the grill lid back over top of the puffy crust to wait some more.

“I mean Lord, I really love it here. I mean it’s pretty much my most favorite house ever. This other one is fine, but I’m already living in the very best house for me.” Maybe I was arguing a little bit at this point.

The short version of the story is that an opportunity arose for us to move to a home that borders several other close family friends. The new-to-us house sits in the middle of a neighborhood with loads of kids who are our boys’ ages. Along with a couple of other families, our plan is to create a common area mecca of sorts where all of our yards connect for our budding teenagers to easily hang out in safe and fun environments. In the end, we have felt the Lord tell us to give up a space we already love for creating community we believe is a win for our children’s future.

But I’ve argued with God about it a bit if I’m honest. There are parts of me that feel super excited for what we truly believe is best for our family. But selfishly, I love where we live now and know that leaving is going to be very hard. I told the contractor who is going to help us rid the new house of a 1952 powder blue toilet and asbestos tiled floors that I already live in my most dreamy house. I’ve held this next one more loosely, knowing that it can’t possibly be as good as where we are now. He says this other house will be my favorite when he is done with it, but I haven’t been so sure. With a handful of things I’ve already convinced myself will be annoying, I’ve felt that his assurance is a stretch.

I opened the lid of the grill again that day and as the smoke surged out and curled around my face, I heard a very clear voice in my spirit.

“You, my love, are just 39 years old. Do you really believe that I have already exhausted my best for you?”

I felt like I had been sucker punched. “Do you really believe that I have exhausted my best for you?” The words hit me in the face like a ton of bricks and illuminated the discontent I had allowed to dance in my mind. “No Lord. I don’t believe that. I know You are good. I do believe that Your best doesn’t run out. Your love is steadfast. You are good and I trust You.”

Let’s Pray

Father God, we know that You remind us in James 1:17 that every good and perfect gift is from you. Lord, give us the faith of even the size of a tiny mustard seed to continue to trust Your kindness and goodness over our lives. Whether we are in the midst of life when it feels it can’t possibly get worse, or in a season where we can’t imagine that Your best could be better, God we know You are always pouring out Your love over us. Your love doesn’t run out, Your best isn’t exhausted today with nothing left for tomorrow, and we trust God that even the steps ahead of us that we can’t imagine are wrapped in Your blessing for us. Father You are good, we love You, and are grateful for Your steadfast love that never runs out.

Now It’s Your

Even in the midst of what may seem good, can you believe that God’s best is still for you? God’s love is steadfast and His kindness is more than we can even fathom. In the bad, or in the good, can you trust that God won’t leave you, forsake you, or run out of His goodness for your life?

More from the Girlfriends

Logan Wolfram would give you full access to her pantry if you lived next door. She is a plate-juggling mom and interior decorator who desires to see women live fully in Christ. She is a National speaker and the author of Curious Faith; Rediscovering Hope in the God of Possibility. Logan and her husband, Jeremy, divide their time between wrangling two inquisitive boys, a 175-pound mastiff named Titan, and a little mutt named Sugar. They reside in Greenville, South Carolina.  Connect more with Logan on her website www.LoganWolfram.com

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Girlfriends in God


LHM Advent Devotion - December 11, 2017 "SERVING OTHERS"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"SERVING OTHERS"

December 11, 2017

And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
~ Luke 1:38 (ESV)

Mary says "Yes" to the angel in a beautiful way: "I am the servant of the Lord." She surrenders to God's will for her life-Let God do whatever He wants to do; it's okay with me.

Our culture today talks a lot about "service" and "servant leadership." They've become popular buzzwords. But for all that, we aren't really that good about taking on the role of a servant. Perhaps we are too used to thinking in terms of our own rights. To willingly lay our rights aside to obey someone else, even God-well, that doesn't feel right to a lot of people.

But that's what God was asking Mary to do. To lay aside her dreams for her marriage, which would now be turned upside down. To lay aside her plans for the next 20 years or so and devote herself to raising a child-one that would definitely have special needs and challenges she couldn't even begin to predict. To lay aside control over her own body-the most intimate freedom anyone has.

And in a single sentence, Mary did it. Why? For love. For love of the Lord who had made her, sustained her, and was about to redeem her and all people. Mary was overjoyed to have the chance to serve this God she loved so much.

And her Son Jesus echoed that love but a thousand times greater when He, too, laid aside hopes and dreams and control of His own body in order to rescue all of us from the power of sin and death. Paul described how Jesus "emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:7-8). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus served all of us in the lowliest and most wonderful way. And now He offers us, too, the chance to serve others just as He has served-in love.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am Your servant. Teach me to serve You with joy and to serve others with Your love. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Mary says "Yes" to the angel in a beautiful way...

Devociones de Adviento de 11 de Diciembre de 2017 - "Sirviendo a los demás"


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"Sirviendo a los demás"

11 de Diciembre de 2017

María dijo entonces: "Yo soy la sierva del Señor. ¡Cúmplase en mí lo que has dicho!" Y el ángel se fue de su presencia.
~ Lucas 1:38 (RVC)

María dice "sí" al ángel de una manera hermosa: 'Yo soy la sierva del Señor, que Dios haga conmigo como le plazca. Para mí va a estar bien.'

En nuestra cultura se habla mucho sobre "servicio" y "liderazgo de servicio". Sin embargo, no somos muy buenos en asumir el rol de siervos. Quizás estamos demasiado acostumbrados a pensar en términos de nuestros propios derechos, por lo que el pensar en dejar de lado nuestros derechos para obedecer a otro-incluyendo a Dios-no nos cae bien.

Pero eso es lo que Dios estaba pidiéndole a María: que dejara de lado los sueños que tenía para su matrimonio, pues ya no iban a cumplirse. Que dejara de lado sus planes para los próximos veinte años y se dedicara a criar a un niño-un niño que habría de tener necesidades especiales y desafíos que ni siquiera podía llegar a imaginar. Que dejara de lado el control sobre su propio cuerpo-la libertad más íntima que toda persona tiene.

Y en una sola frase, María lo hizo. ¿Por qué? Por amor al Señor que la había creado, que la había sostenido y que estaba a punto de redimirla tanto a ella, como a su pueblo. María estaba feliz de tener la posibilidad de servir a ese Dios a quien tanto amaba.

Y su hijo Jesús multiplicó por mil ese amor cuando, al igual que ella, dejó de lado toda esperanza, sueño y control sobre su propio cuerpo, para rescatarnos del poder del pecado y la muerte. Pablo lo describe diciendo: "se despojó a sí mismo y tomó forma de siervo, y se hizo semejante a los hombres; y estando en la condición de hombre, se humilló a sí mismo y se hizo obediente hasta la muerte, y muerte de cruz" (Filipenses 2:7-8). Jesús nos sirvió de la manera más humilde y maravillosa a través de su muerte y resurrección, y nos ofrece ahora la posibilidad de servir a los demás de la misma forma: en amor.

ORACIÓN: Querido Jesús, soy tu siervo. Enséñame a servirte con alegría y a servir a los demás con tu amor. Amén.

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