Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Daily Readings for WEDNESDAY, December 13, 2017

Jesus Denounces Scribes and Pharisees
Daily Readings

Amos 8:1-14
This is what the Lord GOD showed me-- a basket of summer fruit. He said, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then the LORD said to me, "The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day," says the Lord GOD; "the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!" Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, "When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat." The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day. The time is surely coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it. In that day the beautiful young women and the young men shall faint for thirst. Those who swear by Ashimah of Samaria, and say, "As your god lives, O Dan," and, "As the way of Beer-sheba lives"-- they shall fall, and never rise again.

Revelation 1:17-2:7
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands: "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.

Matthew 23:1-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-- the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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 WEDNESDAY, December 13, 2017

O God, Who gladdens us by the annual expectation of our Redemption, grant that we, who now receive with joy Your only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, may behold him without fear when He comes as our judge, even the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Verse of the Day for WEDNESDAY, December 13, 2017

Luke 2:10-11 (NIV) But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Read all of Luke 2

Listen to Luke 2

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 - You Have a Savior

You Have a Savior

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."
~ Luke 2:10 (NIV)

When the angel delivered his heavenly announcement to the shepherds, he started with, “Do not be afraid.” But the shepherds, along with all of Israel, lived in frightening times. They were under the reign of King Herod, who was a tyrant. Their land was under Roman occupation. There was fear about the future. Would Rome ever leave? Would they ever be free? Would the Messiah ever come?

Then suddenly there were angels announcing to the shepherds that the Messiah had come: “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Having angels appear was frightening in itself. Angels were awe-inspiring beings. That is why, when we read of angelic appearances in the Bible, we often see them starting with, “Fear not.”

The message of Christmas is fear not. Have joy. As commentator Ray Stedman said, “The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy.”

Yet it can be difficult for us to have joy because we are surrounded by sadness. With all the tragedies in the world, all the acts of terrorism, and all the problems we have, how can we have good tidings of great joy? The answer is this: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

No matter what happens in life, remember this: You have a Savior. As a Christian, you have been saved from death. You have been saved from eternal punishment and Hell. You have the hope that when you die, you will go straight to Heaven. That is the most important thing about the Christian life. There is a Heaven waiting for you. You have a Savior.
O God, Who gladdens us by the annual expectation of our Redemption, grant that we, who now receive with joy Your only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, may behold him without fear when He comes as our judge, even the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns forever 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.
With all the tragedies in the world, how can you have joy?

Un Dia a la Vez - Oración por el lugar en Cristo

Oración por el lugar en Cristo

Dios puede hacer que toda gracia abunde para ustedes, de manera que [...] toda buena obra abunde en ustedes.

Dios mío, gracias por este nuevo día que nos regalas. Hoy vengo delante de ti presentando a cada uno de tus hijos, a cada persona que hoy lee estas cortas líneas o que escuchan a través de la radio o la Internet esta pequeña, pero muy significativa oración.

Te pido, mi Dios, que estas palabras logren tener el efecto en las vidas de las personas que necesitan poner su vida por completo en tus manos.

Te ruego por cada uno de esas personas que no se aprecia, ni valora o que su autoestima está por los suelos, a fin de que pueda colocar su identidad en ti. Que con tu ayuda, salgan a conquistar el mundo, sientan el deseo de alcanzar metas y, lo más importante, sentir tu compañía.

Señor, rompe toda cadena de amargura y de depresión. Corta todos los lazos del pasado y en este momento infunde en sus corazones un nuevo soplo de vida cargado de deseos de vivir, de superarse, de olvidar y perdonar. Que de ahora en adelante, sin importar la situación que atraviesen, sepan que su lugar está en ti.

Acompáñanos, mi Dios, y ten misericordia de nosotros.

En el nombre de Jesús, amén y amén.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - KEEPING FAITH SIMPLE


The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
~ Psalm 25:14 (NIV)

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

On his first visit to America, I took a Chinese Bible teacher to a Christian bookstore. I was not prepared for his reaction. I thought he would be overwhelmed by the variety of Bibles, reading aids, books and multi-media material on show. He was, but not in the way I expected. He stopped in the middle of the store, turned to me and said, “It must be very hard to be a Christian here.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“How are you going to keep your faith simple with all this available?” We walked around the store as he told me what he meant. He picked five books off the shelf. All had similar titles like The Christian’s secret of a happy life. He leafed through them and said, “Each book seems to say there’s a secret to living a happy life in Jesus. But their secrets are all different. They all say there is one secret, but each has a different secret? That’s confusing.”

“Well, that’s just marketing” I explained a little defensively. But he went on. “Does that mean I have to buy all five books to really know Christ? That makes me anxious. What other secrets might I not be aware of? I have to buy more books. And soon, I would have more books than I could read, and I would not be happy, but guilty that I had spent money on all these books that I had no time to read.”

He put the books down on the floor and said quietly, “In China, I prayed for God to bring me books. He did, but only at the rate of about four per year. So I read those books thoroughly. I copied out passages. I made summaries for teachers. I learned whole chunks by heart. These books really formed me. The point I’m trying to make is that if you have too many books, it’s difficult to read one properly. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just hard. And this variety actually makes faith more complicated than it really is.”

He taught me a daily habit he learned in prison. “Every morning when you wake up, don’t get up; just stay in bed and for ten minutes thank God for anything that comes into your mind. It might be the wallpaper, it might be for friends, it might just be for life. Anything. Once you get going you discover that the world is full of grace, God’s grace. With that attitude you are ready to live the day for God because you are overwhelmed at how generous God is to you.”

It’s so simple, and yet isn’t there something in us that finds the simplest activities so hard to keep up? Maybe that is why we pack our lives with an infinite variety of routines and habits. Anything but just continually doing what is simple.

A Vietnamese evangelist said, “We are to stay in the first grade, grateful to Jesus, repentant for our sins, expectant of his coming. Don’t graduate or you’ll leave the basics behind.”

RESPONSE: Today I will live my life simply – back to basics of praising, praying, witnessing, awaiting.

PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to stay in first grade so that I will never leave behind the basics.

Girlfriends in God - Don’t Miss the Beautiful

Don’t Miss the Beautiful

Today’s Truth

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
~ Hebrews 12:2a (NIV)

Friend to Friend

A few years ago I was invited to speak and sing in Tennessee at a women’s event. To my delight, my daughter Kennedy was able to join me. The two of us are all about “mommy-daughter time” so we were all smiles as we started off on the three and a half hour drive.

Prior to the trip, I had given Kennedy permission to use my iPad to watch a movie. So once we hit the highway, she got cozy with her pillow, her headphones went on, and her attention became fixed on the rectangular screen in front of her. Random giggles floated from my little movie-watcher as I drove and prayed for the event we were heading to.

It was the first week of November, and in the Tar Heel state that’s primetime for fall tree color. Once we past the congested traffic and the hullaballoo of the suburbs, the splendor of God gripped me. Showcased through traces of red, yellow, orange, and brown, the leaves danced in the breeze under the backdrop of a brilliant blue Carolina sky. The trees continued to boast of more and more glory as I neared Virginia… and then the mountains joined in.

Oh, the mountains!

They puffed their chests with the majesty of color and power!

My heart was captured by the glory of it all.

And then I realized that Kennedy was missing it. Ugh!

I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed out the window. “Look around! Lift your eyes and soak in the wonder, sweetie! Don’t miss the beautiful…” I urged.

“Don’t miss the beautiful!”

She paused her movie and joined in on the beauty moment, totally agreeing that God was showing off with His fall art. Minutes later, she went back to watching her movie as I drove on undone. Wrung out by glory. Overwhelmed by the sacred sanctuary I’d stumbled upon. I stayed in the moment and celebrated the beautiful as the psalmist did in Psalm 96:

1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Worship poured from my heart. Splendor and majesty were before both Him and me. I thanked God for the beauty show. And as praise and adoration continued to rise, a God-thought settled on my heart. Tell them, Gwen.

“Tell them what, Lord?” I wondered.

Tell the women what you told Kennedy. Tell them not to miss the beautiful.

Ahhhh, yes! I would tell them, and I would chew on that challenge for days to come. Convicted by questions like:  How often do I drive right through the busyness of my days and miss the beautiful? How many moments of glory do I not even see because my eyes are on the mundane? Do I even look for it?

As we head into this busy holiday season and dance between the days of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years - as we decorate the doors and the hearths of our homes and communities, let’s be intentional to decorate the doors and the hearths of our hearts with ribbons of God’s grace.

Let’s live with eyes lifted to the Gift of gifts, Jesus Christ.

When we face the stresses of our lists, and our tasks, and our activities, and our heart burdens, let’s commit to remembering that the best present is His presence. He’s our Hope, our Peace, our Joy… our Beautiful.

Don’t miss the beautiful.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are glorious and worthy of all praise! Please help me to fix my eyes on You each day so I can walk in your hope, peace, joy, and beauty.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Have you paused to spend time with God one-on-one yet today? This week? Prioritize prayer. Read Colossians 3:1-17. Journal. Spend time in personal worship. Just you and Him.

Then CLICK to LISTEN to the songs that I’ve posted and allow them to lead you to the Beautiful One.

More from the Girlfriends

SPECIAL OFFER: If this message is where you are and you need more practical help focusing your heart, Gwen is offering a 20% OFF discount on her latest book, I Want It ALL (that has a Bible Study guide right in the back!). Get thebook discounted from her site when you use the coupon code: 20OFF. Click here to get yours now.

Got PRIME? Order your copy from Amazon today!

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

Girlfriends in God

LHM Advent Devotion - December 13, 2017 "A BREATHING SPACE"

Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries


December 13, 2017

And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
~ Luke 1:56 (ESV)

Three months of peace. God gave Mary a heavenly gift when He encouraged her to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child. For three months she would not have to deal with the reactions of her family and Joseph. Instead, she would be with two people who believed her story absolutely-two people who rejoiced with her instead of doubting or fearing or even getting angry.

Those three months would allow Mary to get through the worst discomfort of early pregnancy-the morning sickness, the hormone shifts, and the sudden emotional storms. Elizabeth would be able to give her help and good advice. In turn, Mary could do the practical work of cooking, cleaning, and shopping that Elizabeth would be finding difficult as she reached the end of her own pregnancy. The two could help each other in love.

Best of all, those three months would allow Mary to come to terms with the amazing thing God was doing through her. She would have time to think over all the wonderful promises the angel made. She would think back over everything she had learned about God's promised Messiah, and how He would save His people. Mary would gather strength from all this so that when the time came, she could go back and face her parents and Joseph, trusting God to work everything out.

God offers us times of peace and comfort as well. Sometimes they may be short-no more than a few minutes here or there during a work break or a child's nap. But whenever they come, they are a gift from the God who loves us enough to come into the world through the body of a tired pregnant woman who needed peace.

As the Prince of Peace, Jesus knows our needs and provides for them, now and forever. He has earned true peace for us through His death and resurrection. When we are in need, we can ask Him for rest. He will help us.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, give us the peace and rest You see we need so much. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Three months of peace...

Devociones de Adviento de 13 de Diciembre de 2017 - "Un lugar de descanso"


"Un lugar de descanso"

13 de Diciembre de 2017

María se quedó con Elisabet como tres meses, y después volvió a su casa.
~ Lucas 1:56 (RVC)

Tres meses de paz. Cuando Dios alentó a María a que fuera a visitar a su prima Elisabet, quien también estaba embarazada, le estaba dando un regalo celestial. Durante tres meses no tendría que lidiar con las reacciones de su familia o de José. Al contrario, estaría con dos personas que creían por completo su historia-dos personas que, en vez de dudar o temer o incluso enojarse, se alegraron con ella.

Esos tres meses le permitirían a María superar los malestares de comienzos del embarazo: las náuseas, las fluctuaciones hormonales y los cambios emocionales bruscos. Elisabet la podría ayudar y aconsejar y María, a cambio, podría ayudar con la cocina, la limpieza y las compras que a Elisabet se le iban a hacer pesadas hacia el final de su embarazo. Las dos se ayudarían mutuamente en amor.

Lo mejor de todo: esos tres meses iban a servirle a María para aceptar la maravilla que Dios estaba haciendo a través de ella. Tendría tiempo para pensar en todas las tremendas promesas que el ángel le había hecho, en todo lo que había aprendido acerca del Mesías prometido por Dios y en cómo habría de salvar a su pueblo. Todo eso habría de darle fuerzas para que, cuando llegara el tiempo, pudiera regresar y enfrentar a sus padres y a José, confiando en que Dios se encargaría de todo.

A nosotros Dios también nos ofrece momentos de paz y de consuelo. A veces son cortos-sólo unos minutos en el trabajo, o mientras los niños descansan. Pero cuando llegan, son un regalo de ese Dios que nos ama tanto, que vino al mundo a través del cuerpo de una joven embarazada cansada que necesitaba paz.

Jesús, el Príncipe de Paz, conoce nuestras necesidades y provee para ellas ahora y para siempre. Él ha ganado la verdadera paz para nosotros a través de su muerte y resurrección. Cuando lo necesitamos, podemos pedirle que nos ayude dándonos descanso.

ORACIÓN: Jesús, nuestro Príncipe de Paz, danos el descanso y la paz que tanto necesitamos. Amén.

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