Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Daily Readings for THURSDAY, December 14, 2017

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! - Matthew 23:13
Daily Readings

Amos 9:1-10
I saw the LORD standing beside the altar, and he said: Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on the heads of all the people; and those who are left I will kill with the sword; not one of them shall flee away, not one of them shall escape. Though they dig into Sheol, from there shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from there I will search out and take them; and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the sea-serpent, and it shall bite them. And though they go into captivity in front of their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them; and I will fix my eyes on them for harm and not for good. The Lord, GOD of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt; who builds his upper chambers in the heavens, and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the surface of the earth-- the LORD is his name. Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel? says the LORD. Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? The eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth-- except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the LORD. For lo, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the ground. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, "Evil shall not overtake or meet us."

Revelation 2:8-17
"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life: "I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death. "And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword: "I know where you are living, where Satan's throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practice fornication. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Matthew 23:13-26
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.' How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

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 THURSDAY, December 14, 2017


God, grant us the grace to be patient and vigilant in watching, waiting, and listening attentively, so that we won't miss Christ when he comes knocking at our door. Remove whatever hinders us from receiving the gifts which the Savior brings — Joy, peace, justice, mercy, and love. And let us always remember that these are gifts that are only received by giving; let us 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 we pray, Amen.

Verse of the Day for THURSDAY, December 14, 2017


Luke 1:26-28 (NIV)[The Birth of Jesus Foretold] In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Read all of Luke 1

Listen to Luke 1

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 - A Christmas Carol


A Christmas Carol

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment...You received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
~ Luke 16:22-23, 25 (NIV)

A classic movie that plays every year around Christmas is, A Christmas Carol. The story tells of a crotchety old man named Scrooge. With his terrible disposition, he gets an attitude wake-up call three times on Christmas Eve.

He is visited by three spirits, the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. Mid way through the movie, there is a scene that gives me cogitation. Scrooge is being visited by the ghost of Christmas present. At the end of Scrooge's lesson, the spirit opens his big cloak to reveal two pitiful scrawny children. Their names are Want and Ignorance.

Why would this jovial spirit, who seems full of good will and cheer, be harboring these detestable looking children? And what exactly is the lesson to be learned? The story eludes that the spirit is showing those in need whom Scrooge neglects, and although that indeed is true, two other aspects are revealed:

First, it is showing a place of security and peace. A haven of sorts for those who come to him, the sick and depraved, full of ignorance and want.

Second, the spirit is showing the very attributes of Scrooge himself. Scrooge was selfish, bad spirited and miserly, but he was living in his state of deep sleep. He did not even think of his actions. His irredeemable philosophy of life was so well embedded within himself that he not only displayed, but became his very own code of subsistence. Scrooge was in want but was ignorant of that fact. He was wasting away in his misery.

Scrooge may have been rich monetarily but he was poor spiritually. He, himself, had become Want and Ignorance. Therefore, had he not changed, his fate was death.

This begs the question: Do we become so desensitized by “our” way of thinking that eventually our attitudes become our very nature? Do we think we are so perfect just as we are that we become blinded to the fact that we are pitiful, sickly, and skinny in spirit? We cannot see ourselves the way God sees us.

God knows our want and ignorance, yet sees beyond that to our potential for magnificence. He loves us so dearly. He is waiting with His cloak open wide and inside He provides a place of protection and blessings. It is there that we shed our nature and become clothed in His radiance, clean, whole, and forgiven. Then He opens that cloak to show others that their imperfections are accepted into His righteousness.

We should run, not walk, into the soft, comforting folds of His embrace. It is there in the warmth of His love that He will be ours and we will be His, forever.
God, grant us the grace to be patient and vigilant in watching, waiting, and listening attentively, so that we won't miss Christ when he comes knocking at our door. Remove whatever hinders us from receiving the gifts which the Savior brings — Joy, peace, justice, mercy, and love. And let us always remember that these are gifts that are only received by giving; let us 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 we pray, Amen
In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny


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

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.
A classic movie that plays every year around Christmas is, A Christmas Carol.

Un Dia a la Vez - ¿Crees en el Hijo de Dios?


¿Crees en el Hijo de Dios?

Si alguien reconoce que Jesús es el Hijo de Dios, Dios permanece en él, y él en Dios.
~ 1 Juan 4:15 (NVI)

Hace ya varios años me hicieron esta pregunta: «¿Crees en el Hijo de Dios?». A lo que respondí: «Sí, en Dios sí». Entonces me insistieron: «¿En el Hijo de Dios?». En realidad, no entendía por qué me repetía la pregunta, pues para mí era lo mismo.

En efecto, Dios y Jesús son una sola persona, pero la pregunta iba más allá, era más profunda. Aunque son uno solo, Jesús representa un papel demasiado importante en nuestra vida, sobretodo para nuestra salvación.

Ahora yo te pregunto: «¿Crees en el Hijo de Dios?». Si tu respuesta es positiva, sabrás que solo llegamos al Padre por medio de su Hijo. Además, cuando lo confiesas y lo recibes en tu corazón, tienes vida eterna.

No obstante, si tu respuesta es negativa, no te sientas mal. Al igual que tú, muchos lo desconocen. Por eso Jesús vino a este mundo y lo crucificaron injustamente para que con su sangre derramada en esa cruz limpiara nuestros pecados. Por eso también se le conoce como el Cordero que quita el pecado del mundo.

Te invito a que des este paso hoy que será definitivo en tu vida. Repite en voz alta:

«Señor Jesús, he entendido que solo por medio de ti puedo llegar al Padre. Por eso te recibo en mi corazón como mi único y verdadero Salvador. Perdona mis pecados y escribe mi nombre en el libro de la vida. Amén y amén».

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - SHARING FAITH UNDER PRESSURE


SHARING FAITH UNDER PRESSURE

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

Twenty-nine-year-old Maryam Rostampour and thirty-two-year old Marzieh Amirizadeh spent 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison in 2009 in Iran. They had to overcome the fear of life imprisonment and the possibility of execution because they loved and followed Jesus Christ. They had to remain strong through weeks in solitary confinement, and endless hours of interrogation by Iranian officials and religious leaders. They had to endure months of harsh living conditions and debilitating sickness. In their first interview (with Sam Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries), they shared what life was like in prison and how they survived.

Maryam commented, “When we were arrested most of the guards treated us badly, especially when they knew we had been involved in evangelism. They would curse us and would not let us drink water from the public tap or use the wash basin. But this changed and eventually they asked us to pray for them.”

Marzieh said, “Some [prisoners] called us ‘Dirty, unclean, apostates,’ but their opinion changed and they asked for forgiveness. We had become an example to them and they would take our side.”

Maryam added, “At Evin Prison the well-educated political and business prisoners called us ‘Mortad Kasif’ (Unclean apostates). In less than a month everything changed. As they got to know us, they were curious about our faith, they respected us and called upon us to sort out arguments they had between themselves.”

When asked if any prisoners came to faith, she said, “Yes. There were those who accepted Christ. When we were in Vozara [the first prison the women were taken to] we prayed the sinner’s prayer with many of the prostitutes. They prayed themselves and we prayed for them. But there were others who were too frightened to confess their faith. There were many who were impacted.”

Even in prison, under tremendous pressure, it is possible to share one’s faith.

RESPONSE: Today I will resolve to use my freedom to share my faith with others in spiritual darkness.

PRAYER: Lord may other Christian prisoners around the world have the courage and opportunity to share their love for You today.

NIV Devotionals for Men - Where Is Home?


Where Is Home?

Jeremiah 29:1–14
Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 30:3–6; Isaiah 11:11–16; Jeremiah 24:5–7; Philippians 1:21–26

Dignitaries lined the street when the funeral procession passed. Thousands waited just to catch a glimpse of the coffin. In fact, the people of the United States and all parts of the world loved and revered the deceased man so much that his remains were disinterred in Tripoli and brought to the United States for a magnificent funeral.

His name was John Howard Payne. You probably haven’t heard of him. But this well-loved poet was best known for composing one simple verse:
“Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though oft I may roam;
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.”
The prophet Jeremiah knew about feelings of home. He wrote to the elders exiled in Babylon to remind them. Although they found themselves in a strange land, they were still God’s people, and God still had plans for them. Until the appropriate time, however, God spoke through Jeremiah and reminded the elders to make a home where they were: “’Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters’” (Jeremiah 9:5–6). He even instructed them to pray for the cities and lands in which they found themselves, for if the cities prospered so would they.

This directive might have seemed odd to the people in exile. Shouldn’t they start a resistance movement? Some sort of an underground, covert military unit designed to get them out of that situation as soon as possible?

In a certain sense, we’re in the same situation as those exiles in Babylon. Those of us who know and follow God realize that this world is not our final destination. There is a life after this one—a life more real and closer at hand than most people could even begin to comprehend. Yet instead of asking us to rush through life to get to the end, the Bible encourages us to live here, in “exile,” to the fullest, for the glory of the God who put us here. As much as we might excitedly anticipate being in God’s presence someday, we have an opportunity—or more precisely, an obligation—to live fully in the here and now.

If you feel like an exile living in a place you really don’t want to be, take a look at a bigger perspective. God is present with you now, where you are. And he has a plan for you to fulfill until you reach your final heavenly home.

To Take Away
  • Why do you think God places us on earth to await our home in heaven?
  • When you envision the bigger perspective for your life, what plans do you think God has in store for you?
  • What impact does setting your heart and hope on heaven have on the way you live today? In what way does your life show that your hope is in heaven?

Girlfriends in God - You are Who God Says You Are


You are Who God Says You Are

Today’s Truth

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Friend to Friend

I have learned a lot from Charlie Brown, which is a little scary. Here is one truth that his psychiatrist, Lucy, taught me. She is counseling Charlie Brown at her lemonade-stand counseling booth. Charlie Brown is all ears.

Frame 1: “Your life is like a house, Charlie Brown.”
Frame 2: “You want your house to have a strong foundation, don’t you?”
Frame 3: “So don’t build your house on the sand.”
Frame 4: (A strong wind swooshes by and blows Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the makeshift stand into a heap of rubble.)
Frame 5: Lucy’s final advice: “Or use cheap nails.”

There’s a lot of talk about self-worth in our culture. But true self-worth is not an issue of giftedness, talent, intelligence, or beauty. It’s not an issue of how much money you have in the bank, if you are married or single, if you are a mom or childless. Those are the cheap nails compared to knowing Christ.

When we base our identity or our worth on the accomplishments, opinions of others, or appearance, we are in danger of crumbling to pieces with a word of criticism, a bad hair day, or hint of rejection. We will always fall short in our quest to be better, look better, or accomplish more.

Self-worth is really an identity issue. When you base your self-worth on your identity in Christ and His finished work of redemption on the cross, it is unconditional, unshakable, and unchangeable.

Listen, the devil will do anything and everything he can to keep you from believing the truth about who you are, what you have, and where you are as a child of God. Make no mistake about it, he knows that you are a chosen, holy, dearly loved child of God who has been forgiven of all your sins and created to fulfill a great purpose that God has already planned for you. He knows it, and he hates it. His goal is to keep you from believing it. And if he can keep you from believing the truth about who you are, what you have, and where you are as a child of God, then he has won.

You can access the power of God’s promises about who you are, what you have, and where you are in Christ to consistently subdue and eventually erase feeling of inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy that keep you stuck in a mediocre faith. You can reject the devil’s overbearing lies and replace them with God’s overriding truth about your identity in Him and His power in you.

If we base our significance, self-worth, or self-esteem on anything other than the strong nails of our identity in Christ, then we are at risk of collapsing when the strong winds of adversity come our way. The truth is: You are who God says you are.

You, my friend, are a chosen, holy, dearly loved child of God who is equipped by the Father, enveloped by the Son, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And that truth will withstand the strongest winds.

Let’s Pray

Lord, help me to remember that my worth is based on who I am as Your child. According to Your Word, I am valuable, worthy, cleansed, forgiven and free. I am more than a conqueror who has been sealed by the Holy Spirit. I am Your workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works that You have prepared in advance for me to do.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

OK, so Today’s Truth was a downer, so let’s look at the rest of the verse!

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25 NIV).

What are some of the cheap nails upon which you tend to base your self-worth?

What are some of the solid truths of Scripture upon which you will now and forever more base your self-worth?

More From the Girlfriends

I want you to get your true identity in Christ so engrained in your soul, that you will be preloaded with the truth to fight the devil when he tells you that you are less than who God says you are. That’s why I created this laminated card chock full of Scriptural truths about your true identity. Click here to learn more.




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

Girlfriends in God
www.girlfriendsingod.com

LHM Advent Devotion - December 14, 2017 "REAL TRUTH"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"REAL TRUTH"

December 14, 2017

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
~ Luke 2:1-3 (ESV)

Notice how carefully Luke pins down the time of the birth of Jesus. It happened during the days of the census-the first census (Luke clarifies), the one when Quirinius was governor. Luke wants us to know for certain that Jesus' birth is an actual historical event, something that really happened, in a place where you can go and visit if you choose.

Why is Luke so detailed about all this? Who really cares which census it was, or who was governor or even emperor at the time? Can't we just get right to the story?

Luke says no. He says that "it seemed good to me, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3-4).

Certainty is hard to come by today. We have "fake news" and "alternative facts" on TV and on the internet. People twist one another's words and even alter photographs to show things that didn't really happen. Or, if they did happen, they lie outright, changing the details to suit themselves.

But Luke won't play that game. Jesus' birth really happened, at this time, in this place. Our Christian faith is built on historical events, not on airy philosophies and the ideas of human thinkers, however wise they may be. God has come into the real world, the world of dates and times and facts.

God has come into our world, a world desperately in need of truth. We need a real God, one who speaks and commands and judges and saves. We need a real Savior, one who lays down His own human life to rescue the real, broken people who trust in Him, and then rises to real, everlasting life again forever. We need a real Holy Spirit, one who finds us even in the darkness and brings us into the true, glorious light of Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God, that's exactly what we have-a real hope, a real joy, a real baby lying in a manger, the Savior of our world. Amen.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for seeking us out in our darkness and confusion. Strengthen us in Your truth. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Notice how carefully Luke pins down the time of the birth of Jesus...

Devociones de Adviento de 14 de Diciembre de 2017 "La verdad real"


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"La verdad real"

14 de Diciembre de 2017

Por esos días, Augusto César promulgó un edicto en el que ordenaba levantar un censo de todo el mundo. Este primer censo se llevó a cabo cuando Quirino era gobernador de Siria, por lo que todos debían ir a su propio pueblo para inscribirse.
~ Lucas 2:1-3 (RVC)

Es de notar cuánto cuidado pone Lucas en ubicar el nacimiento de Jesús: sucedió durante los días del censo-el primer censo, clarifica, el que se realizó cuando Quirino era gobernador. Sin duda, Lucas quería que estuviéramos seguros de que el nacimiento de Jesús había sido un hecho histórico real, algo que sucedió en un lugar que se puede ir a visitar.

¿A qué se deberá esto? ¿A quién le interesa qué censo fue, o quién era el gobernador o incluso el emperador de ese tiempo? ¿No podía ir derecho a la historia?

Lucas le explica a Teófilo: "... me ha parecido una buena idea escribírtelas por orden, para que llegues a conocer bien la verdad de lo que se te ha enseñado" (Lucas 1:3b-4).

La certeza no es algo de todos los días. La TV y el Internet nos dan "noticias falsas" y "hechos alternativos". Es común tergiversar las palabras que alguien dice, e incluso alterar fotos para mostrar cosas que nunca fueron, o que fueron en forma totalmente diferente.

Pero Lucas no entra en ese juego. El nacimiento de Jesús fue un hecho real que sucedió en un tiempo y lugar específicos. Nuestra fe cristiana está basada en sucesos históricos y no en filosofías etéreas y pensamientos humanos, por más sabios que sean. Dios ha venido a nuestro mundo, al mundo real, al mundo de fechas, tiempos y hechos.

¿Por qué? Porque necesitamos un Dios real, uno que hable, comande, juzgue y salve. Porque necesitamos un Salvador real que entregue su vida para rescatar a las personas reales y quebrantadas que confían en él, y que luego resucite a la vida eterna real. Porque necesitamos un Espíritu Santo real que nos encuentre aun en medio de la oscuridad y nos lleve a la luz verdadera y gloriosa de Jesucristo.

Y, gracias a Dios, eso es exactamente lo que tenemos: esperanza y gozo real gracias a un niño real acostado en un pesebre, Jesucristo, el Salvador del mundo.

ORACIÓN: Querido Señor, gracias por rescatarnos de la oscuridad y la confusión, y por fortalecernos en la verdad. Amén.

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