Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Daily Readings for WEDNESDAY, December 20, 2017 Ember Wednesday of Advent

Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Slaves
Matthew 24:45-51
Daily Readings

Zechariah 3:1-10
Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this man a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." And to him he said, "See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you with festal apparel." And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the apparel; and the angel of the LORD was standing by. Then the angel of the LORD assured Joshua, saying "Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Now listen, Joshua, high priest, you and your colleagues who sit before you! For they are an omen of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. For on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. On that day, says the LORD of hosts, you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree."

Revelation 4:1-8
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come."

Matthew 24:45-51
"Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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 20, 2017


Dear Lord, thank you for blessing us with your message of hope and love. With the Holy Spirit working in our hearts we shall grow in our faith and ability to face unafraid each new day of our lives. How precious to us are your thoughts, O God. How vast is the sum of them! In your holy name.
Amen

Verse of the Day for WEDNESDAY, December 20, 2017


Philippians 2:6-7 (NIV) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Read all of Philippians 2

Listen to Philippians 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 - Jesus the Human Being


Jesus the Human Being

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Oddly, the meaning of this somewhat difficult verse was wonderfully (if somewhat irreverently) captured by a hit song in 1995, “What if God Was One of Us?” The Christian understands what the song is really getting at, because God was, in fact, one of us. The song is asking us to consider the humanity of Jesus. Jesus was a human being. He intentionally took on very real “non-God” weaknesses, temptations, needs, and emotions.

We can infer, from Paul’s comment (together with what little we know of Jesus’ infancy and childhood), that Jesus developed as a normal person. He needed diapers as a baby. He cried when He was hungry. He had to be taught to speak. He was in some ways more than human — He astonished His listeners on His ability to expound Scripture when He was 12 — but in some ways, He was no different from you or I.

The most important aspects of His humanity deal with His crucifixion. Jesus did not face His torture and death with a smug smile on his face, as God might do. He did not have universal knowledge; He did not have a special way of sensing that He would rise again. Rather, He went to the cross as a matter of faith; God the Father instructed Him to do it, and instructed Him concerning His divinity. In fact, Jesus sweated blood in the hours leading up to his arrest (Luke 22:44) and prayed to the Father that He might not have to do it. (Mark 14:36)

But why? Just consider the benefits. First, it made Jesus the model of faith. Facing torture and crucifixion means more to us when we consider that Jesus suffered it as a matter of faith in the Father, rather than in the absolute knowledge of His resurrection that would come from omniscience.

Second, it gave us, in our weakness, more confidence in His empathy for us. We know Christ suffered exactly the way we suffer. He suffered as a human being. He was afraid! Absence of fear is not courage. Courage is demonstrated by acting in spite of fear; and the greater the fear, the more profound the courage, and ultimately, the more profound the demonstration of faith.

Does God know what it is like to feel lust, to be so hungry one wants to steal, or to feel the fear of death? I mean, does He really know, sitting up there in Heaven, invulnerable? Why, yes he does, because he made Himself vulnerable and ignorant, intentionally, to prove it to us.

A third lesson we might take away from Jesus’ humanity is this: It is not a sin to be human. We know for a fact that Jesus slept, got hungry, ate, and wept. He had friends. In fact, no matter how strongly we might infer it, and no matter how unlikely it seems, the Bible never says that Jesus did not marry.

It is not a sin to feel grief when a loved one dies; it does not show a lack of faith. How can one say this with assurance? Because “Jesus wept” when His friend Lazarus died.

So we celebrate at Christmas, not only because our Savior has come at last. Just as much, we celebrate the humanity of Jesus. We are not forced to love only an abstract God. We can love a human being.
Dear Lord, thank you for blessing us with your message of hope and love. With the Holy Spirit working in our hearts we shall grow in our faith and ability to face unafraid each new day of our lives. How precious to us are your thoughts, O God. How vast is the sum of them! In your holy name. Amen.
In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny


Seeking God?
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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 if God Was One of Us?”

Un Dia a la Vez - Convertidos de verdad


Convertidos de verdad

Mis queridos hermanos, como han obedecido siempre [...] lleven a cabo su salvación con temor y temblor.

Algo que ha enternecido mi corazón hacia Dios es conocer que Él siempre me buscó.

Que desde el vientre de mi mami ya sabía mi nombre y conocía mi destino.

Ahora, después de varios años de conocerle, puedo recordar que varias veces tocó a mi puerta como todo un caballero y a través de diversas situaciones me envió alertas de que mi vida corría peligro si no enderezaba mis caminos.

Hoy en día lamento no haberle abierto mi corazón desde antes. Con todo, lo que más me preocupa es que, conociendo su amor y su sacrificio, en varias oportunidades le he fallado y he caído una y otra vez.

Día tras día tomo conciencia de que la salvación no es un juego y que debo buscar siempre su rostro y vivir en integridad. Por eso Dios, que es amor, nos brinda la oportunidad de reorganizar nuestra vida y está dispuesto a levantarnos, fortalecernos y a darnos una vida diferente.

Pero todo dependerá de cada uno de nosotros.

Mi invitación para ti es a que tomes la decisión de abrir la puerta de tu corazón y aceptes el regalo de la salvación que te ofrece Dios.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - BECOME A DISCIPLE


BECOME A DISCIPLE

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Sixty-three-year-old Lena has established several secret churches in her Central Asia country. She now leads seven house fellowships which meet together in small groups. On several occasions she has had to cope with arrests. “One time police with guns entered the house where we were meeting with a group. We were taken off to the station. Of course we were afraid,” says Lena. The reason why Lena can talk so “nonchalantly” about her arrest follows quickly. She does not necessarily see it as a problem, but as an opportunity to testify.

“I experienced how God took away my fear and gave me peace. Even more, I had the chance to tell the gospel to the head of police. While we were locked up there, I simply started to talk. I was given the opportunity to tell him what God had done for me,” says Lena. “After some time, the man only said, ‘Take your group away.’”

While she is telling her story, there is not a trace of fear, anger or bitterness to be found on her face because of the injustice. When asked how this is possible, Lena only has one answer. In God’s Word, it says that for a long time there will be persecution, but that He will also grant a way out. She recalls Isaiah 41:10, which says, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. So Lena lives out her life in Uzbekistan, bearing in mind that God is watching over her everywhere.

She provides Bible teaching for Christians and has a heart for work with children and young people adding, “We have to do everything to help Christians to become mature believers.” For example, Lena and other Christians try to hold annual children’s camps where, for a few days, the children are introduced to the gospel through play. The enthusiasm of the children makes it clear that the camps are a success. But Lena and her staff encounter problems year after year. “It’s difficult to find a suitable location, where we can receive the children in safety. And things remain tense: the police may always come and disrupt the camp.”

Despite these difficulties, Lena does not give up. She sees the church growing and hammers home the missionary message of Matthew 28, in which Jesus calls on us to make disciples of all nations. This message is what Lena is living out, in the midst of persecution.

“We must understand that the church cannot grow without disciples,” emphasises Lena. “Become a disciple!”

RESPONSE: Today I will become a true disciple of Jesus using every situation—good or bad—to share my faith with everyone and encourage and train other younger believers.

PRAYER: Pray for Lena and others like her growing the Church of Jesus amid great persecution.

Girlfriends in God - That Little Sneaky Path to a Bad Place


That Little Sneaky Path to a Bad Place

Today’s Truth

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
~ Psalm 23:3 (NKJV)

Friend to Friend

One Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a city park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the city park lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is that the folks going to the city park don’t like the fact that those daggum CHURCH people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it, too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to STOP PARKING IN THE CITY PARK PARKING LOT (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to) folks still do it. As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me. He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say, “You’re going to walk down it eventually.”

See, while we have been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, there is this nice little path through the bushes from the city park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, cobblestones are succinctly placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk. Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin. Let’s say that you have decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of a particular sin.
  • You’re not going to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and eat a dozen chocolate-covereds in one sitting. You’re not even driving by.
  • You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend…ever again!
  • You’re not going to date that guy you know is bad for you…ever again.
  • You’re not going to look at that particular website.
  • You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.
  • You’re not going to gossip about other people.
  • You are not going to drink because you know you have an alcohol problem.
  • You are not going to indulge in online shopping because you’re in debt.
  • You’re not going to _______________.

There are hundreds of vices you could put in that sentence. But then there’s a nicely groomed little path that you’ve kept open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.
  • The guy’s name is still in your contacts list on your smartphone.
  • You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.
  • You still pull up that website when you think God isn’t looking.
  • You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.
  • You still take the route home from work that goes right by the Dunkin Donut store.
  • You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.

The paths beckon you. And as long as you keep the breezeways open, you’ll probably breeze right through them…eventually.

The answer? Remove the path. Put up a gateless fence.
  • Remove the contact.
  • Change your job.
  • Get rid of your computer.
  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Take a different route home from work.
  • Remove the bottle.
  • Unsubscribe.

Make the path impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead.

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29 NKJV). That is pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was saying either. But He was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation.

Remove the path. Put up a fence.

So here’s my question: Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path?

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for always giving me a way of escape. Forgive me for not always taking it. Help me to keep my resolve to put up a fence and close the paths to areas of my life that I have left open to sin.
 In Jesus’ Name,
 Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

I’m erecting a fence the moment I press the send button on this devotion. Because now that I’ve told you about my little parking lot dilemma, I will never park in the city park’s lot again. Just telling you about it holds me accountable.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ve hit on a way for you to begin placing fences where those paths have been…tell someone, and ask her to hold you accountable.

Go back and look at today’s truth. What do you think it means “for His name’s sake?”

I’ve been pondering that. Here’s how the New Living Version translates it. “He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”

Are you willing to honor God’s name today by putting up a fence and avoiding that tempting path? If so, click over to my Facebook page and say, “I’m shutting down the path.”

More from the Girlfriends

I’ve compiled one hundred of my favorites stories, along with Bible verses and prayers in one book, Listening to God Day by Day. It is the perfect jump-start at the beginning of the day, pick-me-up during the day, or wind-down at the end of the day. The 15-minute devotional is also a great gift for a friend, especially one who is seeking a relationship with God or is new to the faith.


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 20, 2017 "GOD WITH US"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"GOD WITH US"

December 20, 2017

"... and they shall call His name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).
~ Matthew 1:23b (ESV)

"Would you stay with me, please?" That was what I asked my friend when I was sitting in a cubicle at our nearby hospital, facing emergency surgery. I didn't want to be left all alone. It was too scary.

Children ask this, too. "Can I sleep with you tonight?" they ask, standing by their parents' bedside. "It's too dark, and I don't want to be by myself."

When we're frightened, when we're sad or grieving or troubled, we need other people. We need someone to be with us, maybe just to hold our hands if nothing else. They don't have to say anything-just being there is enough.

God knows this about us. And one of the best promises He gave us was the promise to send His Son, Jesus, who would be called "Immanuel." Literally the name means "With-us God." Jesus is proof that God has not simply set the world going and then wandered away, like some philosophers think. God is with us, actively involved in our lives, calling and saving and forgiving.

When my son was tiny, he would not go down a slide at the playground by himself. He had to have Mommy or Daddy to go with him. Then he had courage. We depend on Jesus, God-with-us, the same way, don't we? We can't face death alone. But Jesus has gone there first ahead of us when He died and rose again. He knows the way. And He says to us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5b). He goes with us now through our daily lives, and He will go with us then, as we face death. He will bring us all the way through, to the resurrection He has promised us and all believers on the other side. Jesus is God always with us.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, stay with me when I am afraid or grieving. 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).
"Would you stay with me, please?" That was what I asked my friend when I was sitting in a cubicle at our nearby hospital...

Devociones de Adviento de 20 de Diciembre de 2017 "Dios está con nosotros"


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"Dios está con nosotros"

20 de Diciembre de 2017

... y le pondrás por nombre Emanuel, que significa: "Dios está con nosotros".
~ Mateo 1:23 (RVC)

"¿Te quedas conmigo?", le pregunté a mi amiga cuando estaba en una salita del hospital, esperando a que me operaran de urgencia. No quería estar sola. Estaba muy asustada.

Los niños piden lo mismo: "¿puedo dormir con ustedes?", les preguntan a sus padres. "Está muy oscuro y no quiero estar solo."

Cuando estamos asustados, tristes, con problemas o sufriendo, necesitamos a alguien. Necesitamos que alguien esté con nosotros, aunque sólo sea para sostenernos la mano. No necesitamos que nos hablen--su presencia es suficiente.

Dios sabe acerca de esto. Por eso nos prometió enviar a su hijo Jesús, quien sería llamado "Emanuel", que significa "Dios está con nosotros". Jesús es la prueba de que Dios no se limitó a crear el mundo y luego desentenderse de él, como algunos filósofos afirman, sino que está activamente involucrado en nuestra vida llamando, salvando y perdonando.

Cuando mi hijo era pequeño e íbamos al parque, no había forma que fuera al tobogán, a menos que mamá o papá fueran con él. Entonces sí, tenía coraje para tirarse por él. De la misma forma, nosotros dependemos de Jesús, Dios está con nosotros, ¿no es cierto?

No podemos enfrentar solos a la muerte. Pero Jesús lo ha hecho primero, muriendo y resucitando. Él conoce el camino y nos dice: "No te desampararé, ni te abandonaré" (Hebreos 13:5). Él va con nosotros cada día de nuestra vida, e irá con nosotros cuando enfrentemos la muerte. Él nos llevará a través de ella a la resurrección que ha prometido a todos los creyentes. Jesús es el Dios que está siempre con nosotros.

ORACIÓN: Querido Señor, quédate conmigo cuando estoy asustado o sufriendo. Mantenme siempre 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.
 "¿Te quedas conmigo?", le pregunté a mi amiga cuando estaba en una salita del hospital