Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Daily Readings for THURSDAY, December 21, 2017 - Saint Thomas Day

Jesus and Thomas
John 20:24-29
Daily Readings

Habakkuk 2:1-4
I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

Psalm 126 In convertendo
1   When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2   Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy.
3   Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
4   The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
5   Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses of the Negev.
6   Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
7   Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Hebrews 10:35-11:1
Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet "in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back." But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

John 20:24-29
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

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.

Saint Thomas the Apostle

Saint Thomas the Apostle

Saint Thomas the Apostle

Today the church remembers Saint Thomas the Apostle.

Poor Thomas has been saddled with the unhappy nickname, "the Doubter," since the earliest days of the church. This is due, of course, to the account of him in the twentieth chapter of John's Gospel. Countless sermons and many fruitful meditations have come out of the consideration of Thomas's doubts. It is significant that he was the namesake of Thomas Aquinas, the great questioner and teacher of the Middle Ages.

Some have held that doubt is the antithesis of faith, others that it is the mother and nourisher of faith. Certainly there are many kinds and levels of doubting. Thomas's kind of doubting-- his forthright, honest questioning--has made him an attractive and popular person to modern people who tend to see great virtue therein. It is interesting that "doubting" Thomas is the first of the apostles to proclaim our Lord's divinity after the resurrection.

Thomas was a twin. He was the alleged author of an apocryphal gospel. We do not know where he went after the resurrection or where he died, but traditions of his missionary activities are in evidence from Iran to the Malabar coast of India.

O Eternal God, who did strengthen your Apostle Thomas, being doubtful, with firm and certain faith in the resurrection of your Son our Lord: Grant unto us your people, that we may be not faithless but believing, until we come to see our Savior in his glory face to face; through the same Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Ever-living God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight: through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer of the Day for THURSDAY, December 21, 2017 - St Thomas Day


Ever-living God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight: through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Verse of the Day for THURSDAY, December 21, 2017 - St Thomas the Apostle


John 20:28-29 (NIV) Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Read all of John 20

Listen to John 20

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 - Joseph, the Unsung Hero


Joseph, the Unsung Hero

"Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly."
~ Matthew 1:19 (NIV)

Joseph is the unsung hero of the Christmas story. For the most part, there are no Christmas songs about Joseph. Yet he really is a hero. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a “good man” (Matthew 1:19). Deeply in love with Mary, he was no doubt jolted by the news that she was pregnant.

Joseph and Mary were engaged, which, in their culture, was like being married. Once a couple entered into this engagement, or espousal, period, it was like being married, although they lived in separate houses. It was during this time that Mary became pregnant.

Yet Joseph loved Mary, and the Bible tells us that he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19). In other words, Joseph was thinking, I’m going to say that I can’t marry her now, but I’m certainly not going to publicly shame Mary, either.

While he was pondering this, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him, “do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (verses 20–21).

That was all Joseph needed to hear. He could have walked away, even after he knew the truth. But he stood by Mary. And just as surely as God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, he chose Joseph to be a father figure on earth for Jesus.

When God uses a person, there is a sacrifice to make. It won’t be an easy path, but it will be a fruitful one—and you will look back later in life and be glad that you took it.
O God, who did call blessed Joseph to be the faithful guardian of your only begotten Son, and the spouse of his virgin Mother: Give us grace to follow his example in constant worship of you and obedience to your commands, that our homes may be sanctified by your presence, and our children nurtured in your fear and love; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.
Are you willing to be an unsung hero, like Joseph?

Un Dia a la Vez - Tú y toda tu casa


Tú y toda tu casa

Cree en el Señor Jesucristo, y serás salvo, tú y tu casa.
~ Hechos 16:31 (RV-60)

Es posible que lleves años orando por tu familia para que conozcan de Dios. ¡No te canses de hacerlo! Cuando menos lo pienses, la oración que está bajo la voluntad del Padre recibirá respuesta.

Por eso no podemos desanimarnos si pasan meses, años y no hay cambio.

Muchas personas se desaniman y piensan que Dios jamás hará el milagro.

Yo soy fruto de esa oración permanente de mi hermana Norma. Ella fue la primera de la familia en conocer de Jesús y, desde entonces, empezó a orar por mi salvación. Al principio, era muy duro porque la rechazaba y la llamaba «religiosa» porque la veía con la Biblia. Sin embargo, ¡quién pensaría que al año yo estaría postrada recibiendo a mi Jesús!

Después de mí vino la conversión de mi mami, mi papi, de Helenita, su esposa, y de esa manera se ha ido cumpliendo la Palabra de Dios para salvación de toda la familia.

No te desanimes y ora sin cesar. La oración tiene poder.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - EVANGELISM OPPORTUNITIES EVERYWHERE


EVANGELISM OPPORTUNITIES EVERYWHERE

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
~ Luke 15:10 (NIV)

Pastor Joseph Bondarenko sat on the sunny deck of the Russian river boat as it pulled out of Tyumen in Siberia and headed north up the river. The leaves on the trees were already changing colour in a blaze of autumn beauty. But this was no Love Boat. On board this old river scow were over one hundred and fifty other Christians joining this adventure. The passengers were there to assist in a one-month evangelism outreach in northern Siberian cities—places where the gospel had not been preached before.

As Joseph soaked in the beauty of the sun and God’s creation, he thought back on his early ministry years in the nineteen fifties and sixties. His aggressive evangelism in those days resulted in imprisonment three times. Yet there in those filthy prison cells, God was still present and his ministry continued. Joseph led so many to Christ in prison that they kicked him out each time. In total he lived nine years in a prison cell, isolated from his beloved wife, Mary.

He smiled to himself as he recalled that eventful day in 1989 when the KGB agent who had him imprisoned came to talk. The officer had been watching him for years and now articulated his desire to know Jesus too. Joseph’s spirit leaped with joy as he thought back on the day that KGB agent and his family were baptized. Nothing is impossible with God.

He relived the many crusades in recent years when Open Doors provided as many as twenty thousand Russian Scriptures for new believers who responded to the call of God on their life.

And now with a group of musicians, preachers and follow-up personnel his vision for evangelism was continuing to be fulfilled; one whole month stopping and preaching at twenty cities along the main rivers of Siberia. At the end of the month, Joseph’s “cruise-ade” had seen over 10,000 people pray the sinner’s prayer and commit their lives to the Lord! And even more exciting is the fact that Christian young people were left behind in sixteen communities to do follow-up training and establish new churches.

On the walls of a hall in Joseph’s church is the missionary journey history of this local body and the missionary vision maps. Joseph becomes very animated and excited as he traces the colour-coded missionary journeys for the past summers that young evangelists he is training had made into Siberia and onward toward the Far East. But more exciting for him are the dotted lines that lay out next summer’s trip plans. They reached right to the Pacific Ocean!

Like his Master, Joseph went through much suffering and deprivation in his life. But like his Master, nothing gives Joseph more joy than knowing the angels in heaven were rejoicing.

RESPONSE: Today I will recommit to share the good news of the gospel with everyone wherever I am.

PRAYER: Pray that the many Joseph Bondarenko’s of our world will continue to bear much fruit.

NIV Devotions for Men - From Mourning to Morning


From Mourning to Morning

Lamentations 3:19–33
Recommended Reading: Psalm 30:1–12; Luke 24:1–8; Romans 8:18–39

People around the world watched in horror as the video from the attacks of September 11, 2001, played again and again on cable and network news channels. But to those of us who lived in the United States, and particularly in New York City, the reality of these terrorist acts shook us to the core. Never before had a terrorist strike hit so close to home or disrupted so many American lives.

Now imagine a more widespread terrorist attack that painfully and more permanently alters your daily life. This attack destroys federal, state and local government buildings in your community. Somehow, the terrorists seriously damage local utilities, phone lines, cell phone networks and banking services. They murder many government and church leaders. Still worse, the attackers raze your home, rob you of all your possessions and kill your family members. You have no one left.

Welcome to Jerusalem in 586 BC, following the invasion by the Babylonian army.

Of course, we hope we never experience devastation this severe. However, all of us have tasted disappointment, loss, abandonment or the death of a loved one. And during those times we often feel that we’ve lost everything. Where do we turn when we can no longer feel in control of our surroundings? When we can’t fix our problems? When hope seems lost?

Through the prophet Jeremiah God reassured Judah of his great love. God’s care for us is greater than any of our current circumstances. He knows our pain and hears our cries. And his mercy and compassion are never far behind. If Jeremiah could attest to this fact even after the violent struggles of his life, then each of us can too.

Because of God’s great love we always have hope! We endure difficult struggles not because of our own determination and resolve but because of God’s great love. His love can overcome our darkest fear, greatest loss and deepest sorrow. And for every long, dark night of the soul, a new morning ascends on the horizon, bringing a new day. These words aren’t empty. They’re life-giving promises from God that all of us need during our darkest moments.

This sinful and disappointing world can’t guarantee health, wealth and success. But we do have the promise of God’s power and love. When we feel hopeless, we can submit to God’s will, wait quietly for his deliverance and rest in the promise that his love will carry us through.

To Take Away
  • Think back to a time when you felt hopeless. From God’s perspective, were you really in a hopeless situation? Why or why not?
  • What would you do differently if you were to face a similar situation again?
  • What are some practical ways you can remember God’s promises during difficult times in life?

Girlfriends in God - Holiday Survival Plan


Holiday Survival Plan

Today’s Truth

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.
~ John 3:16 (NIV)

Friend to Friend

Do you dread the Christmas holidays or do you look forward to them? Did you promise yourself that this Christmas would be different? How is that working out for you? I have been there many times and want to share some tips that will help you get the most out of the holiday season.

Create a Christmas countdown calendar. Plan a special holiday event to mark each day of the season. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.

• Plan an evening with hot cocoa in front of a crackling fire.
• Choose one night of the week to watch a Christmas movie or program.
• Make picking the perfect tree a family event.
• Buy a box of Chocolate-covered cherries and eat one a day.
• Buy or exchange Christmas books to read during December.
• Invite close friends over for a casual Christmas dinner. Keep it simple. Ask everyone to 
bring a favorite Christmas dish Embrace the senses of the season.
• Keep cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove.
• Make a batch of Christmas cookies.
• Buy candles and burn them every day.
• Listen to instrumental Christmas music so you can concentrate on the melody instead of 
the words.
• Plan a family night to see Christmas lights.

Share the holidays. In other words, don’t deny others the opportunity to invest in the Christmas season by trying to do it all yourself. Delegate, and let others help you. Children can wrap gifts and help bake. Teenagers can put up lights and clean the house.

Stick to your lists. According to the American Bankers Association, it takes an average of four months for a credit card user to pay off stress-inducing holiday bills. Decide how much you can afford to spend on each person. Put that amount of cash in an envelope with that person’s name on it. When the envelope is empty, you are done – no exceptions.

Put away the Credit Cards. Don’t take them with you when shopping. Freeze your credit cards in a jug of water, or mail them to a friend until the holidays are over. If you prefer to use debit or credit cards, keep all receipts in an envelope. Keep a running total of what you have spent.

Cancel Duty Gifts. Cut down on the number of gifts you give. If you are still exchanging gifts with friends and relatives you rarely see or neighbors and co-workers you are reluctant to offend – stop. They will probably be relieved as well.

Give yourself a break. Take a candlelight bath. Go to a movie in the afternoon. For every five gifts you buy, treat yourself to a small gift.

Avoid the Scrooges. Do not yield any part of your Christmas to a Scrooge. When they say something negative, respond quickly with “Yes, but...” For example, if someone complains about the crowds, you might say, “Yes, but seeing all of these people really puts me in the Christmas spirit!”

Start celebrating right now! Christmas is not just a holiday or a date on the calendar. Christmas is a way of life centered on Jesus. So let the celebration begin ... now!

Keep one Christmas decoration out all year long. When you begin packing away all of the Christmas decorations, keep one or two of your favorite ornaments out in plain sight as a reminder that we are to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ every day of the year.

Let’s Pray

Father, I pray that I will truly celebrate Your birth this Christmas instead of getting caught up in the ways of the world. Help me to remember and share the truth that You are the very heart of Christmas. Today I celebrate the reality of Your presence in my life. Thank You for sending Your Son to earth as a tiny baby in a manger.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your

Count your blessings instead of your crosses.
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes.
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears.
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean.
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth.
Count on God instead of yourself.

More from the Girlfriends

Do you dread the Christmas holidays? Check out Mary’s MP3, The Secret of a Merry Christmas, for ways to discover and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook - or through email.

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 21, 2017 "OBEDIENCE"


Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"OBEDIENCE"

December 21, 2017

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Obedience is not a fashionable virtue. People are suspicious of it, talking about robots and mind control. We make jokes about it with references to dog obedience school. We make heroes out of rebels and those who "did it my way."

And yet, none of us likes to be disobeyed. When a child, or even a dog, disobeys us, we understand perfectly well why obedience matters. "Don't run into the street." "Look both ways." "Don't play with the fire." "Come here, now!" Obedience makes the world run smoothly. Disobedience ends up in pain and even death.

As human beings, we should know this well. Our first ancestors disobeyed God in the beginning, and we have been paying the price for it ever since. Sin, trouble, war, death, disaster upon disaster-if only we had listened to God! None of this needed to happen.

Thank God, Joseph listened. He woke up, got up, and brought Mary home to be his wife. She in turn obeyed the Lord by bearing and raising Jesus our Savior. And His obedience is the source of our salvation-though He was in the form of God, (Christ) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11)

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for obeying the Father and becoming our Savior. Let me in turn obey You with faith and love. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Obedience is not a fashionable virtue. People are suspicious of it...

Devociones de Adviento de 21 de Diciembre de 2017 "Obediencia"


ALIMENTO DIARIO

"Obediencia"

21 de Diciembre de 2017

Cuando José despertó del sueño, hizo lo que el ángel del Señor le había mandado y recibió a su mujer, pero no la conoció hasta que dio a luz a su hijo primogénito. Y le puso por nombre JESÚS.
~ Mateo 1:24-25 (RVC)

La obediencia no es una virtud que esté de moda. Enseñamos obediencia a los perros, pero consideramos héroes a quienes viven "a su manera".

Sin embargo, no nos gusta que nos desobedezcan. Cuando un niño, o incluso un perro nos desobedece, entendemos muy bien la importancia de la obediencia. "No bajes a la calle." "Mira bien antes de cruzar." "No juegues con fuego." "¡Ven ahora mismo!" La obediencia hace que el mundo funcione mejor, mientras que la desobediencia causa dolor, e incluso la muerte.

Como humanos que somos, deberíamos saberlo bien. Al comienzo del tiempo, nuestros primeros antepasados desobedecieron a Dios y, desde entonces, hemos estado pagando el precio por ello. Pecados, problemas, guerras, muerte, desastre tras desastre-¡si hubiéramos obedecido a Dios, nada de eso hubiera sucedido!

Gracias a Dios que José obedeció: se despertó, se levantó y llevó a María a su casa como esposa. Ella, a cambio, obedeció al Señor cargando y criando a Jesús, nuestro salvador. Y su obediencia es la fuente de nuestra salvación:
"... siendo en forma de Dios, [Cristo] no estimó el ser igual a Dios como cosa a que
aferrarse, sino que se despojó a sí mismo y tomó forma de siervo, y se hizo semejante a los
hombres; y estando en la condición de hombre, se humilló a sí mismo y se hizo obediente hasta
la muerte, y muerte de cruz. Por lo cual Dios también lo exaltó hasta lo sumo, y le dio un
nombre que es sobre todo nombre, para que en el nombre de Jesús se doble toda rodilla de los
que están en los cielos, y en la tierra, y debajo de la tierra; y toda lengua confiese que Jesucristo
es el Señor, para gloria de Dios el Padre." (Filipenses 2:6-11)
ORACIÓN: Señor Jesús, gracias por obedecer al Padre y ser nuestro Salvador. Ayúdame a obedecerte con fe y amor. Amén.

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