Friday, December 22, 2017

The Daily Readings for FRIDAY, December 22, 2017 - Ember Friday

The Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25:14-30
Daily Readings

Zechariah 7:8-8:8
The word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the LORD of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. But they refused to listen, and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears in order not to hear. They made their hearts adamant in order not to hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. Just as, when I called, they would not hear, so, when they called, I would not hear, says the LORD of hosts, and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and a pleasant land was made desolate. The word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the LORD: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts shall be called the holy mountain. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the LORD of hosts? Thus says the LORD of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.

Revelation 5:6-14
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, "To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Matthew 25:14-30
"For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, 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 FRIDAY, December 22, 2017

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.

Verse of the Day for FRIDAY, December 22, 2017

Luke 2:8-11 (NIV) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Read all of Luke 2

Listen to Luke 2

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Morning Devotions with Cap'n Kenny - The Gospel Tree

The Gospel Tree

"a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."
~ Luke 2:34b-35a (NIV)

There was a shining Christmas tree Standing out where all could see. Its brilliance captured every eye And seemed to cheer each passer by.

“The lights are so bright,” they would say And hesitate to walk away. The tree stood proud ablaze with light For every light was burning bright.

Then one bulb was heard to say “I’m tired of burning night and day; I think I’ll just go out and take a rest For I’m too tired to do my best; Besides I am so very small I doubt if I’d be missed at all.” Then a child lovingly touched the light, “Look, mother, this one shines so very bright.

I think of all the lights upon the tree This one looks the best to me.” “Oh my goodness,” said the light “I almost dimmed right out of sight.

I thought perhaps no one would care If I failed to shine my share.” With that a glorious brilliance came For every light had felt the same.

Our Gospel, like this Christmas tree, With little lights which are you and me, We each have a space that we must fill With love, and lessons and good will.

Let’s keep our tree ablaze with light, With testimonies burning bright. For our Gospel is a living tree That lights the way to eternity.
Lord, help me to keep my Gospel ablaze with light throughout the coming year. 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.
There was a shining Christmas tree Standing out where all could see...

Un Dia a la Vez - El mejor ejemplo

El mejor ejemplo

Les he puesto el ejemplo, para que hagan lo mismo que yo he hecho con ustedes.
~ Juan 13:15 (NVI)

Tú y yo tenemos el llamado a ser ejemplo. ¿Has pensado alguna vez que por nuestra mala actitud hemos espantando literalmente gente que podría estar en los caminos de Dios?

¡Qué tremendo es que aun amando a Dios nos dejemos llevar por ese carácter explosivo que en un momento de ira dice y hace cualquier cosa menos buscar de Jesús!

¿Qué te parece si hoy traemos a nuestra memoria a cuantas personas hemos ofendido, maltratado o juzgado y por esas razones no quieren saber nada de ti ni de Dios? Sería de mucha bendición para tu vida que buscaras esas personas y les pidieras perdón.

No es bíblico ni sano llevarnos mal con otras personas. Eso daña nuestra vida espiritual y no permite que se desaten las bendiciones que nos envía Dios.

Cada día, dispongamos nuestro corazón de manera que refleje el carácter de Cristo y llevemos cautivo todo pensamiento a la obediencia del Padre.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - NEVER TOO OLD TO SERVE JESUS


The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

As I share with numerous audiences my experiences from years of ministry in Asia, I often try to drive home the point that the Church in China teaches us that you can never be too young and never too old to serve Jesus.

Our Western church culture marginalizes youths until they have finished some level of higher education. And even worse, we marginalize those who are retired as now being “over the hill” and only fit to sit in a rocking chair for whatever years remain for them.

But repeatedly in the Old Testament, there are references to the elderly “still bearing fruit in old age!” And the persecuted church is replete with stories and testimonies giving evidence.

In 1997 I wrote a booklet titled Great Bible Women of China in which I share the story of five elderly Chinese Bible Women who completed long fruitful lives of service, finishing strong.

In his book, Vietnam’s Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity, veteran Vietnam missionary, Reg Reimer, shares the remarkable story of diminutive Mrs. Diep Thi Do. She and her pastor husband served as missionaries among the Stieng tribal people for twenty years. Just before Vietnam fell in 1975, her husband was captured by the communists and was never heard from again. She then did not dare do any tribal ministry except pray.

In 1981, emerging from the deep underground during the darkest years, she encountered some very discouraged Stieng Christians in the market. They begged her to be their missionary and pastor. She considered this a strong call from God and courageously called the Stieng back into church groups. She often “stared down” resistance from communist authorities. She presided over the building of the largest church sanctuary in Vietnam. She performed all pastoral functions including marrying, burying, appointing leaders and administering the sacraments. Her bravery and her spiritual authority ensured that no one ever challenged her operating essentially as a bishop.

Reg Reimer concludes, “She described herself as ‘only a little woman.’ But her faith and trust in God made her a giant in the lives of thousands of Stieng Christians she had served for fifty-five years. More than four thousand came to attend her funeral and celebrate her life when she died at age eighty-four in 2008.”[1] You can never be too old to serve Jesus!

RESPONSE: Today I will acknowledge that disciples of Jesus can be useful for Him at any age—especially in their elderly years.

PRAYER: Pray that elderly believers will realize the giftedness they have and can continue to utilize.

1. Reg Reimer, Vietnam’s Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2011), p. 60.

Men of the Bible - Paul


His name means: "Little"

His work: Paul was a Pharisee, possibly a member of the Sanhedrin, who was transformed by a visitation of Jesus on the road to Damascus to become a radical missionary for Christ.
His character: His intensity about life was matched by his faith and love for Jesus Christ.
His sorrow: The memory of his hatred of Christians and his sanctioning of their punishment, floggings, and murder.
His triumph: Paul spread the gospel to the Gentiles.
Key Scriptures: Acts 9; Paul's letters

A Look at the Man

Except for Jesus himself, no one in history had a greater impact on the formation of Christian doctrine and the setting up of the church than Saul of Tarsus—the apostle Paul.

But before Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, the thought of carrying such a distinction could not have been more abhorrent to him. Saul was a zealous Jew. His singular mission in life was to preserve the integrity and traditions of his religion, and he was ready and willing to eliminate anything that threatened it—by any means. About this he was shamelessly passionate.

Born in Tarsus, Saul was the son of parents who wanted their son to be grounded in the laws, the orthodoxy, and the traditions of Judaism. Such training was not available in Tarsus, so they took him hundreds of miles to the south to study in Jerusalem. As a young man, Saul sat at the feet of the great teacher Gamaliel.

"Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse," Gamaliel read to his student from the fifth book of the Law of Moses. "You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance." Saul believed that the law was truth, and he had known the details of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. As far as he was concerned, Jesus was cursed. In addition to his beliefs about Jesus, Saul was also apprehensive about the growing number of Christians, especially among the Jews. This pollution had to be cleansed.

A short time before Saul's journey to Damascus, Peter and a handful of disciples had been brought before the Sanhedrin, of which Saul may have been a part. They were charged with healing the sick in the temple courts and teaching people about Jesus. Furious about the disciples' endeavor, the high council listened to their defense.

"Kill these traitors," one of the Pharisees shouted. "Yes, we must destroy these heretics," shouted another.

But Gamaliel, now an old man, stood and spoke. "Leave these men alone! Let them go!"

Saul was shocked. Hadn't this same wise man etched the law into his head as a youth? Now was he telling the Sanhedrin to ignore the law?

"We've seen these movements come and go," Gamaliel continued. "If its purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, even we will not be able to stop them; we'll be fighting against God, and we will fail."

Gamaliel's speech persuaded the Sanhedrin to forgo the execution of Peter and the other disciples; yet to assuage the anger of those who pressed charges, the Sanhedrin ordered the disciples to be flogged. They hated these followers of Jesus and despised the words they spoke. And the sound of the forty lashes slicing the backs of these conspirators from an adjoining room delighted each one of the great assembly.

"Do not speak in the name of Jesus again," the disciples were ordered as they reappeared, now bloodied and bruised, before the Sanhedrin. But from the looks on these offender's faces, not a single member of the council believed that they would obey.

Saul had never seen such resolve. This made him hate them all the more.

And in just a few days, the members of the Sanhedrin, with Saul in their midst, were able to vent their rage as they took Stephen outside the city and crushed his body under a volley of stones.

Now Saul was faced with the unthinkable. The disciples had been right. Stephen had been innocent—murdered in cold blood. Jesus was the very one spoken of by the prophets. What was he to do?

Saul—later on the island of Cyprus asking to be called "Paul"—spent the remainder of his life answering that question. In fact, he went straight to the synagogue and began to preach. "Come to Jesus," Paul preached to those who had gathered. "He is the Son of God…. Repent and be saved."

The priest in Damascus sent word to Caiaphas. "Good news: Saul has arrived in Damascus. Bad news: He's talking like a lunatic."

Before his martyrdom at the hands of Nero, Paul spread his "lunacy" throughout the known world. Through his love for Jesus, his compelling preaching, and his imprisonments, the fires of revival were ignited by this crazy man—once the gospel's great adversary, now its tireless champion.

Reflect On: Philippians 1:9–11
Praise God: For his persevering grace.
Offer Thanks: For the gift of his Son, the gift of faith to believe, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to fill us with himself.
Confess: Your shortsightedness and your unwillingness to thank him in every circumstance.
Ask God: To fill you with radical, life-changing love for him.

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 Unlikely Women of Christmas

The Unlikely Women of Christmas

Today’s Truth

They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”.
~ Revelation 12:11 (NIV brackets added)

Friend to Friend

When the writers of the Old Testament penned the words to the long lists of lineages, the so-and-so begat so-and-so passages, they almost always listed men. Very rarely did a woman’s name make the list.

But when we turn the page from the Old Testament to the New Testament, we see God honoring women in a brand-new way. We get a hint that the tide is turning for women when we read the lineage of Jesus recorded in Matthew chapter one. Shockingly, in addition to Mary, four women were listed in the genealogy of Christ!

And whom should God choose to be set apart, chosen, and honored in the genealogy of His Son? Not Mrs. Noah, who must have been an awesomely patient woman with all those animals to take care of. Not Mrs. Moses, who must have been incredibly flexible with all that moving around in the wilderness. Not Mrs. Abraham who must have become the poster woman for senior citizens everywhere when she had a child at ninety-years-old.

No. Those are not the women that God chose to be listed in the lineage of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He chose Rahab, who had been a prostitute in Jericho. He chose Tamar, who had an incestuous relationship with her father-in-law. He chose Bathsheba, who had an affair with King David. And He chose Ruth, a nice girl from the cursed Moabite nation.

And that IS the story of Christmas. God shows us through these women’s lives that there is no place we can go that is so far away from His presence that He cannot forgive us, redeem us, and then use us for His glory. His arm is not too short to save us from the deepest pit imaginable.

I often hear women say they believe God can forgive them, but that they struggle with the idea He could ever use them. But the Bible shows us that He can and He will—if we let Him. Your past stumbling stones can become your God-ordained stepping-stones. Your mistakes and failures can become the very springboard from which your ministry is launched. I’m not talking about launching an international ministry, though it could be. I’m talking about your ministry to your neighbor, your co-worker, and your family.

Revelation 12:11 says this: “They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Each of the women in Matthew chapter one had a powerful story of how God plucked her from desperation, placed her on a firm foundation, and transformed her life into a portrait of admiration and inspiration.

Does that give you hope? It does me.

And that, dear sister, is what the Christmas story is all about.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Redeemer, I am so thankful that You choose the weak things of the world to shame the wise. I am one of those “weak things,” and I am constantly amazed that You chose me and use me for Your glory. Thank You for writing my name into the Christmas story.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

During the next few days, go back and read the stories of the women listed in Jesus’ genealogy and see what you can learn about their lives.

Rahab: Joshua 2
Tamar: Genesis 38:1-30
Bathsheba: 2 Samuel 11
Ruth: The book of Ruth

After reading about them, answer these questions:
What did God take them from?
What did God take them to?
What does this tell you about the people that God chooses and uses?

More from the Girlfriends

This is not your typical Christmas message, but it is why Jesus came. To save the lost, heal the sick, and use the redeemed. If you would like to learn more about God’s transforming power to turn your life around, check out my book, Your Scars are Beautiful to God: Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past.


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 22, 2017 "KEEPING PROMISES"

Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries


December 22, 2017

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
~ Luke 2:4-5 (ESV)

It must have been difficult for Mary to travel at nine months pregnant. The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was 70 miles as the crow flies, but there were hills to climb the direct way. Mary and Joseph probably went the longer way, adding 20 miles to the trip.

Walking that far is no easy task. And in spite of all the Christmas cards and nativity scenes, we have no reason to believe Mary had a donkey to ride. I hope she did, though. The trip must have been hard enough!

Really, I have to wonder why Mary made the trip at all. Joseph had to register, but Mary could have stayed home and had her baby in her own home, with the help of relatives and neighbors. That sounds much more comfortable, not to mention safer.

But if she had stayed home, Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. And God had promised years ago by the prophet Micah that the Messiah would be born there and nowhere else.

Did Mary go with Joseph because she remembered this? Perhaps. Or she may have just wanted to be with her husband and away from judgmental, prying relatives and neighbors who wondered about the birth too soon after the wedding.

One way or the other, God saw to it that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem. God always keeps His promises, even if it takes influencing a Roman emperor to call a census affecting large parts of the world. Even if it means breaking the laws of nature, so a virgin has a baby. Even if it means sending His own Son into this world of suffering and death so that we might be adopted as children of God.

And if God did all this to keep His promises in the past, how much more can we trust Him to keep His promises to us today!

THE PRAYER: Father, thank You for promising eternal life to everyone who trusts in Your Son Jesus. I believe You, Lord, and I rejoice. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
It must have been difficult for Mary to travel at nine months pregnant.

Devociones de Adviento de 22 de Diciembre de 2017 "Cumpliendo promesas"


"Cumpliendo promesas"

22 de Diciembre de 2017

Como José era descendiente de David y vivía en Nazaret, que era una ciudad de Galilea, tuvo que ir a Belén, la ciudad de David, que estaba en Judea, para inscribirse junto con María, que estaba desposada con él y se hallaba encinta.
~ Lucas 2:4-5 (RVC)

Para María debe haber sido difícil viajar estando embarazada de nueve meses. Para ir de Nazaret a Belén hay dos caminos. Pero el más corto, de setenta millas, tiene muchas colinas, por lo que probablemente fueron por el camino más largo y sin colinas, que añadía otras veinte millas.

No es fácil caminar tanto. Y, a pesar de todas las tarjetas y escenas de Navidad que muestren lo contrario, no tenemos razón para creer que María haya tenido un burro en el cual montar. Con burro o sin burro, el viaje debe haber sido agotador.

Me pregunto qué llevó a María a hacerlo. Es cierto que José tenía que registrarse, pero María bien podía haberse quedado a tener el bebé en su propia casa con la ayuda de familiares y vecinos, lo cual suena mucho más cómodo, y ni que hablar de mucho más seguro.

Pero si lo hubiera hecho, Jesús no hubiera nacido en Belén. Y Dios había prometido muchos años antes a través del profeta Miqueas, que el Mesías habría de nacer en Belén y no en otro lugar.

¿Acaso María fue con José porque recordó eso? Quizás. O quizás porque quería estar con su esposo, lejos de los familiares y vecinos criticones que se preguntarían cómo era posible que diera a luz tan pronto.

Sea como fuera, Dios se encargó de que Jesús naciera en Belén. Dios siempre cumple sus promesas, aun cuando tenga que hacer que un emperador romano convoque a un censo que afecte una gran parte del mundo... aun cuando tenga que ir en contra de las leyes de la naturaleza para que una virgen tenga un bebé... aun cuando signifique enviar a su propio Hijo a este mundo lleno de sufrimiento y muerte para que podamos ser adoptados como hijos suyos.

Y si Dios hizo todo eso para cumplir su promesa en el pasado, ¡podemos confiar en que va a cumplir sus promesas para nosotros hoy!

ORACIÓN: Padre, gracias por prometer vida eterna a todos quienes confían en tu hijo Jesús. En su nombre. Amén.

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