Friday, December 15, 2017

The Daily Readings for FRIDAY, December 15, 2017

Lament over Jerusalem
Daily Readings

Haggai 1:1-15
In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD's house. Then the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. Because my house lies in ruins, while all of you hurry off to your own houses. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the soil produces, on human beings and animals, and on all their labors. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of the prophet Haggai, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD's message, saying, I am with you, says the LORD. And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month.

Revelation 2:18-29
"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze: "I know your works-- your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call 'the deep things of Satan,' to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; only hold fast to what you have until I come. To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations; to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered-- even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Matthew 23:27-39
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation. "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

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 FRIDAY, December 15, 2017


Thank you, dear God in Heaven, for this day. What a gift you give us each day, with the blazing sunrise through a cloudy winter sky. It is hard getting up these dark mornings, Lord, and yet when I do, you gift us with a sight that we miss at other times of year. I stare out the window at the red and purple light, gloriously framed by the gold of the rising sun. Let me remember your words when I see it, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Let me watch your day unfold in silence, filled with a sense of your presence in my life.

I am filled with gratitude this day, that I could witness such a treasure and could feel it and see it as a gift from you. Thank you for your love. Today, let me carry a sense of how much you love me to send me such a gift. Let that awareness of your love change the way I treat others today. Let me be more peaceful in the face of the irritations of the day. I ask your help to move through my errands and holiday preparations today with peace and a sense of your sunrise in my heart. Your glory fills my spirit and I want only to give thanks with my life this day.
Amen

Verse of the Day for FRIDAY, December 15, 2017


Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Read all of Colossians 1

Listen to Colossians 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 - The Color of Christmas


The Color of Christmas

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."

Red is the color of Christmas—not because Santa suits are red or because we wrap packages in red. Red is the color of Christmas because of the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed.

We see a battle being played out in our culture today that is actually the battle of the gods. It is the God of the Bible, the true and living God, versus all contenders. This battle goes back to the first Messianic verse in the Bible when, after Satan tempted Adam and Eve to sin, God said to him, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Thus, Satan wanted to stop Christ from coming.

The cradle was pointing to the Cross. The Incarnation was for the purpose of atonement. The purpose behind the birth of Jesus was the death of Jesus. This is New Testament Christianity. It’s the division between light and darkness, righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil, and right and wrong.

Interestingly, it’s actually through conflict that we can find real peace. For example, when someone walks into a dark place and turns on a bright light, it changes the entire dynamic. Through this conflict, through this disagreement, the ultimate unity will come. Why? Because as a Christian, you make people aware of their sin—and they don’t like it one bit. You don’t even have to say anything, really. You’re just being you as a Christian.

So don’t be upset because there is a little conflict. Just hold your ground and keep praying. This division can result in people thinking about their souls, considering the claims of Christ, and then ultimately turning their lives over to the Lord.
Thank you, dear God in Heaven, for this day. What a gift you give us each day, with the blazing sunrise through a cloudy winter sky. It is hard getting up these dark mornings, Lord, and yet when I do, you gift us with a sight that we miss at other times of year. I stare out the window at the red and purple light, gloriously framed by the gold of the rising sun. Let me remember your words when I see it, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Let me watch your day unfold in silence, filled with a sense of your presence in my life.

I am filled with gratitude this day, that I could witness such a treasure and could feel it and see it as a gift from you. Thank you for your love. Today, let me carry a sense of how much you love me to send me such a gift. Let that awareness of your love change the way I treat others today. Let me be more peaceful in the face of the irritations of the day. I ask your help to move through my errands and holiday preparations today with peace and a sense of your sunrise in my heart. Your glory fills my spirit and I want only to give thanks with my life this day. 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.
The color of Christmas is red--red for the shed blood of Christ!

Un Dia a la Vez - Consejos prácticos para el diario vivir


Consejos prácticos para el diario vivir

Lámpara es a mis pies tu palabra, y lumbrera a mi camino.
~ Salmo 119:105 (RVR1960)

Hay un refrán popular que expresa: «El que no oye consejos no llega a viejo». Y es muy que cierto.

No sé si te ha pasado, pero a mí sí. A veces nuestros padres nos aconsejan y nos dicen cosas que saben que son buenas, pero no les hacemos caso. Hoy, después de tantos golpes en la vida, te puedo decir que debemos escuchar los consejos de nuestros padres, pues tienen la experiencia y la sabiduría de la vida. Además, desean lo mejor para nosotros.

He aquí algunos consejos útiles que a mí me han dado buenos resultados:
  • Coloca a Dios en primer lugar.
  • Deja el pasado atrás.
  • Ten en alto tu autoestima.
  • Valórate.
  • No menosprecies lo que tienes.
  • Sé fiel, honesto y sincero.
  • No envidies los triunfos de los demás.
  • Trabaja con excelencia.
  • Sé humilde.
  • Sé obediente a los mandamientos del Señor.
Si quieres ser feliz de verdad, pon en práctica lo que te aconseja la Palabra de Dios.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - LOVE MYSTERY


LOVE MYSTERY

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

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

However we splice it, the Christian life involves living with mystery. Many times the will of God is utterly incomprehensible to us. This is as it should be, since God’s ways are so much higher than ours, but it doesn’t make it any easier to live with. Living with mystery is hard.

Mystery should make us silent, humble, careful. We should not rush to explain what cannot be explained. But I remember on a visit to China meeting a famous house church leader. We were talking about revival. Revival is a mystery. Why does God bring it to some countries and not to others? We don’t know. This leader said he knew: “Oh, there is no mystery to revival. Revival is brought about by persecution. You pray for persecution, and you will get revival later on.”

But this is quite untrue, and one has to make allowances for persecuted Christians, for though they may know the history of their own churches well, they are often unaware of the history of the church worldwide. It is obvious that God has brought many revivals about without persecution. The Great Awakenings of 18th century America and Britain for example were brought about largely as a result of the preaching of Whitefield and Wesley. It is also obvious that there are places where persecution has not brought revival. One thinks of the whole of North Africa and the Middle East, which provided so many of our early church leaders like Tertullian and Augustine. Now there are only the sandy ruins of churches, and Islam.

Mysteries also should make us honest. We have to admit “we don’t know” to God. But all too often we beg for answers we simply could not handle. But if I look at the experiences rather than the explanations of the persecuted, I see that at the heart of mystery is not frustration, but joy and grace.

The same Chinese leader—so confident he knew the formula to revival—also shared a prison experience: “I had lost my church, my freedom, and I was starting to lose my health, and I cried to God, Why are you letting me go through this?” He received no formal answer, but said, “I felt a light within me that chased away the darkness, and I received the companionship of Christ. I cannot explain it any more than that, though God knows I have tried. It never comes out right. But the mystery of God’s will was the means I rested on the bosom of Christ.”

Mysteries appear dark, like black holes on the outside, but as we enter them, we are in for a wonderful discovery. At their center is not darkness, but light. This light is the light of Christ. Don’t be afraid of a mystery. It is dark on the outside, but full of light on the inside.

RESPONSE: Today I will not fear mystery but love it by entering to find the light of Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, keep me silent, humble, careful and honest as I explore the mystery of Your grace.

Men of the Bible - Stephen


Stephen

His name means: "Crown"

His work: After Pentecost, Stephen was one of seven leaders chosen to be the first "deacons" to serve the needy.
His character: He is a model of readiness and untold courage in the face of his adversaries.
His sorrow: In addition to the rocks that came hurling down on him, Stephen must have been struck by the utter lostness of those who should have known better—the religious leaders of his day.
His triumph: The privilege of representing, serving, and dying for his Master.
Key Scriptures: Acts 6-7

A Look at the Man

There are only a few men in Scripture of whom you might say to your son, "When you grow up, be exactly like him." Stephen is such a man, a tender and gracious leader with a brilliant mind, a crisp tongue, and a humble yet disarmingly confident air about him.

For the Jewish leaders of his day, Stephen was not a good man to have on the other side.

Because of Peter's triumphant Pentecost sermon and the spread of the gospel throughout the region, people were converted from many different cultures. Many converts in need came to other believers for food and daily provisions. Generosity prevailed. Primarily accustomed to native Israelites coming to Jesus, the disciples were challenged with the right way to handle Jews from other nations who embraced the faith. Some of the Greek-speaking believers were overlooked.

"What we need are committed men who can help these people," a group of believers said to one another one evening. "Is there anyone here who speaks Greek?"

Seven men stepped forward—Stephen and six others. The leaders were familiar with Stephen. A man known for his faith, his oratory skills, and his Spirit-filled power, Stephen's ministry was widespread. He had even performed miracles in Jesus' name. This was one very gifted man.

But there was no glamour in the assignment for which Stephen was volunteering. He would be responsible for distributing food and supplies to Greek-speaking widows and caring for the disabled. Here was a man who was well versed in history and the law and could command audiences with his words. Now he would quietly be taking care of the needs of people who were incapable of taking care of themselves.

To the Pharisees and Jewish leaders, Stephen was a monumental threat. He was winning the minds and hearts of the people, and many were being converted. So they collared a few men who were willing to take oaths and lie about Stephen.

"What do you have to say for yourself?" they demanded of him after the false charges had been presented before the Sanhedrin.

It would have been completely understandable if Stephen had taken the opportunity to defend himself. Point by point he could have summarily disassembled the charges against him and the reprobates who had perjured themselves. But he didn't.

Instead, Stephen took the whole council on a walk through history. He identified their heroes—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon. Stephen acknowledged how God's faithfulness had sustained and prospered these patriarchs. He reminded them of how each of these men had been obedient in spite of terrible odds. This was not the speech they expected, and they were drawn to Stephen's message.

The Sanhedrin leaned forward in their seats, waiting for Stephen to identify them as members of the grand sequence of great Jewish leaders. But it wasn't to be. Imagine their horror when Stephen announced that they, like others of God's adversaries, had deliberately tried to thwart his providence—that they were the enemy.

Stephen must have known that he had pronounced his own death sentence—that the cost of his courage, of telling the truth before this powerful assembly, would be the loss of his life. Still, Stephen willingly paid the price. He didn't know that his sacrifice would plant a seed in the heart of a man who heard his stirring address and stood there, watching and approving of his brutal assassination—Saul of Tarsus—who later became the transformed Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.

As selflessly as he waited on the needy, Stephen gave everything he had in service to the risen Lord. As a result, God took his obedience, multiplied it, and eventually the church of all nations was born.

Reflect On: Luke 23:44–49
Praise God: For his grace.
Offer Thanks: For the words of Stephen as he died, innocent, at the hands of bloodthirsty men. Thank God for Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and his unfailing love for us, the guilty ones whose sins sent him to the cross.
Confess: Any eagerness to receive applause for your obedience rather than to be completely satisfied with God’s approval for your service—public or private.
Ask God: To give you the discipline to be prepared for whatever special commission he has for you—to have your mind and your heart properly prepared.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (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 - The All of Christmas


The All of Christmas

Today’s Truth

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.
~ Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

Friend to Friend

A story in National Geographic several years ago provided an interesting picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage.

At the base of a tree, one ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes. Dismayed by the strange sight, the ranger knocked the bird over with a stick. To his amazement, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, sensing the impending disaster, had carried her chicks to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. The blaze had descended upon her, scorching her small body, but the mother remained steadfast, willing to die so those under the cover of her wings would live.

God’s love is like that. Jesus is God spelling out His love for you in a language you can understand. God’s love changes everything and everyone it touches. It protects and breathes life and purpose into every minute of every day. God’s love is a gift beyond measure that surrounds us and covers us when the fire of life rains down. It is God’s love and the very reason for the season we call Christmas – or it should be.

I know many of you are experiencing those “fires” of life this year. No job and no prospect of one. Someone you love is very ill or maybe you are the one battling to survive each day. A rebellious child has broken your heart. A secret addiction is slowly destroying your life. Your spouse packed his bags and walked out the front door because he no longer wants to be married. It is hard to celebrate anything in the midst of such darkness.

I have great news for you, girlfriend.

You can celebrate Jesus. Do not believe the lies of the enemy when he tells you that your God has forsaken you. God is with you – Emmanuel. God understands your fear and loneliness. He endured the cross, completely and absolutely alone because He loves you and because no one can take your place in the Father’s heart. No matter where this Christmas Eve finds you – you can celebrate Jesus.

Let’s Pray

Father, I celebrate You and the love You so freely offer. I may not understand some of the things happening in my life right now but I choose to trust You with each one. My faith is small, Lord. Give me Your strength for each step and help me to remember that You are with me. Lord, today I celebrate Your birth. Thank You for the gift of life and love I find in knowing You. My Christmas gift to You is everything I am, everything I have, everything I hope to be.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now it’s Your Turn

Find some time today to spend alone with God. Praise and worship Him for who He is, Lord, King, Father and Shepherd. Celebrate the perfect plan and design of God for your life.

More from the Girlfriends

Sharon, Gwen and I pray that this Christmas is a true celebration of Jesus Christ at work in your life. It is such an honor to do life with you.

May God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
The warmth of Christmas, which is love;
The radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
The righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
The belief in Christmas, which is truth;
The all of Christmas, which is Christ.

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 PROBLEMS, REAL SAVIOR"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"REAL PROBLEMS, REAL SAVIOR"

December 15, 2017

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
~ Matthew 1:18 (ESV)

I wonder sometimes what those few words are hiding: "she was found to be with child." The word "found" suggests that somebody realized it without Mary telling them. Perhaps it was her mother; perhaps it was Joseph, her fiancé. We don't know the details, but it probably wasn't a pretty scene.

I'm certain this wasn't what Mary dreamed of when she was a little girl, playing house. In those dreams, everything always goes right, doesn't it? First comes a beautiful wedding, then a home and children who are always good and never rebel or argue. And of course nobody ever gets sick or dies.

But the real world is messy, as we all know. And God came into our real world-the one that includes yelling and screaming and tears and unwed mothers, broken engagements and what-will-the-neighbors-say. God came into our world, and that's good for us. Because we desperately need a Savior.

In a way, it's entirely fitting that our Savior was conceived by a young girl in a precarious relationship, in danger of public shaming or worse. It's fitting that He was born in substandard housing and laid in an animal's feed trough. It's fitting that He spent the first few years of His life as a refugee in Egypt, fleeing a dangerous government. It's fitting because all these things are still with us today-broken families, poverty, exile, fear. And they aren't going away soon.

We need a Savior-oh, how we need Him! And so God came to us-came to be one of us, a child raised in the middle of all the human troubles we face. He knows our lives-he has shared them. He has shared our death in all the fullness of suffering. And now He promises to share His own resurrection with us on the day when He makes all things new.

In the meantime, we hold on to Jesus' promise: "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

THE PRAYER: Lord, You know what I need. Overcome my problems in Your mercy, and keep me close to You. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
I wonder sometimes what those few words are hiding: "she was found to be with...

Devociones de Adviento de 15 de Diciembre de 2017 "Un Salvador real para problemas reales"


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"Un Salvador real para problemas reales"

15 de Diciembre de 2017

El nacimiento de Jesucristo fue así: María, la madre de Jesús, estaba comprometida con José, pero antes de unirse como esposos se encontró que ella había concebido del Espíritu Santo.
~ Mateo 1:18 (RVC)

A veces me pregunto qué ocultarán esas palabras: "se encontró que ella había concebido". 'Se encontró' sugiere que alguien se dio cuenta sin que María se lo dijera. Quizás fuera su madre, o quizás José, su prometido. No sabemos los detalles, pero probablemente no haya sido una escena agradable.

Y seguramente tampoco fue como María lo había soñado desde que era pequeña y jugaba a ser mamá. En los sueños todo siempre sale bien, ¿no es cierto? Primero viene el matrimonio muy romántico, luego el hogar y luego los hijos, que nunca son rebeldes. Y por supuesto que nadie se enferma o se muere.

Pero el mundo real es caótico. Y Dios vino a nuestro mundo real-donde hay gritos, lágrimas, madres solteras, compromisos rotos y vecinos murmurando. Dios vino a nuestro mundo y eso es bueno para nosotros, porque desesperadamente necesitamos un Salvador.

En cierta forma, tiene sentido que nuestro Salvador fuera concebido por una joven en una relación inusual que la ponía en peligro de ser condenada públicamente. Tiene sentido que naciera en condiciones precarias y yaciera junto a animales. Tiene sentido que pasara sus primeros años como refugiado en Egipto, escapando de un gobierno peligroso. Porque todas esas cosas siguen siendo reales hoy-familias deshechas, pobreza, exilio, temor. Y lo van a seguir siendo por bastante tiempo.

Necesitábamos-y necesitamos-un Salvador, y Dios lo envió. Él conoce nuestra vida porque la ha compartido, y nuestra muerte porque la ha experimentado en la totalidad de su sufrimiento. Y ahora nos promete compartir su resurrección cuando haga todas las cosas nuevas.

Mientras tanto, nos aferramos a su promesa: "Estas cosas les he hablado para que en mí tengan paz. En el mundo tendrán aflicción; pero confíen, yo he vencido al mundo" (Juan 16:33).

ORACIÓN: Señor, tú sabes lo que necesito. En tu misericordia, ayúdame en mis necesidades y mantenme cerca de ti. Amén.

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