Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, December 23, 2017 - Ember Saturday

The Judgment of the Nations
Matthew 25:31-46
Daily Readings

Zechariah 8:9-17
Thus says the LORD of hosts: Let your hands be strong-- you that have recently been hearing these words from the mouths of the prophets who were present when the foundation was laid for the rebuilding of the temple, the house of the LORD of hosts. For before those days there were no wages for people or for animals, nor was there any safety from the foe for those who went out or came in, and I set them all against one other. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, says the LORD of hosts. For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, the ground shall give its produce, and the skies shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Just as I purposed to bring disaster upon you, when your ancestors provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the LORD of hosts, so again I have purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; do not be afraid. These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the LORD.

Revelation 6:1-17
Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, "Come!" And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, "Come!" I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's pay, and three quarts of barley for a day's pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!" When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, "Come!" I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, "Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?" They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed. When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

Matthew 25:31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

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 SATURDAY, December 23, 2017

I pray for all who will be making journeys today and during the Christmas holiday: For those who travel to spend time with family and friends; For those who are going to a new job and for those who are going to work for the last time today; For the emergency services who will travel at high speed on land, water or in the air, to bring help to others; For those starting a new life as they move into a new home; For those traveling to or from prison; For people who will go into hospital today; For young people on their way to and from school, college and university; For those who are lost on the journey of life; For those who will die today and make their final journey. I remember all these people now, and ask your blessing upon them, Lord.

Verse of the Day for SATURDAY, December 23, 2017

Luke 2:11-14 (NIV) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

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 - ’Tis the Week Before Christmas

’Tis the Week Before Christmas

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.”
~ Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

Tis the week before Christmas and all though my house
Everyone’s scurrying, including my mouse.
Clicking on gadgets, electronics and toys
Thinking these options might bring someone joy.
Hoping the presents, with shipping that’s free,
Would arrive just in time to stick under the tree.
People in vehicles drive with less care
To go to the store is not something I’d dare.
So onto my laptop I go with a plan
To check off my gift list, all that I can.
Now Billy and Bobby, Tommy and Dan
And Sarah, and Shelly, Rebecca and Jan
I look at my list that’s attached to the wall.
Check them off. Check them off. Check them off all!

And then in the background, I heard a sweet sound
Words of some music that left me spellbound.
The story it told of one silent night
Of angels and shepherds and a star that was bright.
It spoke of a virgin, Mary her name,
A child in her womb from the spirit He came.
The one who would bring salvation to all
Was born on that night in a stable; cow stall.
A meager beginning for one who was king
The reason for Christmas the gift that He brings.

Forgiveness of sin to a life that is new
Because of this message, I knew what to do.
I got off my laptop and went to the floor,
On knees before God, my heart opened its door.
I wanted this Jesus to live in my heart
Forgive all my sins, give me a fresh start.
Frozen heart that was hard, now melted like ice
A newness of spirit bought in me with the price,
By the blood that was shed by this baby boy
As a man, yet God, Good tidings, great joy!

Tis the week before Christmas, I’ll never forget
A decision I made, one I’ll never regret;
That Jesus would be my Savior and King.
So now I will spread this message He brings;
Of love and forgiveness, comfort and peace
Of life everlasting, sin shekels released.
So along with my presents I bought from online
My message of Jesus, a gift for all time.
Come to the one who brings life that is new,
A gift that is meant especially for you,
Healing, cleansing, the truth and the way,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day!
Lord Christ, may Your message of salvation be spread throughout all the world this Christmas. 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.
Tis the week before Christmas and all though my house...

Un Dia a la Vez - Reciclamiento


No se contenten solo con escuchar la palabra, pues así se engañan ustedes mismos. Llévenla a la práctica.
~ Santiago 1:22 (NVI)

Así como el reciclamiento es importante para tener un planeta más saludable y una vida más sana, también lo es para nuestra vida diaria. Esto lo vemos cuando en verdad tenemos ese anhelo de cambiar, de desechar lo que no sirve, separar lo que puede ser tóxico y utilizar, como es debido, los talentos y dones que hemos desaprovechado.

¡Qué bueno sería que en las proyecciones que ya estamos haciendo para el nuevo año pongamos el deseo ferviente de reciclar siempre en nuestra vida!

Es decir, separarnos de las cosas y personas que nos contaminan y entregar en manos de Dios las partes más nocivas de cada uno para que las purifique con su amor. De esa manera lograremos comenzar de verdad un año nuevo y una vida nueva.

No sigamos utilizando los mismos recipientes. Pidámosle al Señor que nos dé nuevas vestiduras y que esos cambios se puedan ver en nosotros. Entonces, de seguro, muchos se interesarán por nuestro cambio y desearán imitarnos.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDE OF CHRIST


I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Iraq is probably the last place in the world you’d expect to find an illustration of the beautiful bride of Christ. Yet on top of a beautiful plateau in the mountains of Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) a group of Arab Christians organized a prayer conference. More than five hundred Christians from all over Iraq, from all kind of churches including twenty local church leaders, came to pray for unity and peace in the country. “Oh God, unite our country again, bring peace to the Christians and strengthen your people,” was the common prayer on everybody’s lips. “This was a unique and wonderful experience for the Iraqi church,” shares Joyce who was one of the participants.

Teachers and pastors gave lectures on humility and engaged the group in seeking the Lord Jesus Christ at first. “There was prayer for the country and prayer for the different pastors. And one of the highlights was the fact that local Iraqi pastors washed each other feet and that is a miracle in a country where there is so much division,” Joyce adds. And she continues, “We prayed for God to give hope and life for individual Christians again; we prayed for individual prayer requests which were written down on paper.”

Another pastor taught the group to love their country and to have a passion for the country. Joyce says, “Two young leaders from Baghdad were very much touched by this, since both of them had been victims of violence and kidnapping in Baghdad, because of their faith. They had problems in loving their country and the people in it.”

One pastor shared, “Every six months we lose twenty per cent of our believers to the free world, and our main problem is also that so many Christian leaders are leaving. You just finish training young leaders and they leave. It is a pity and we are losing so many potential leaders.”

Another Iraqi Christian shared with tears the experience of his kidnapping in Kirkuk. “God was with me and I felt that people around the world were praying for me, although I was amazed about that. God was with me and he brought me out.”

In conclusion a pastor said, “Like Christ, the church in Iraq feels afflicted, not comforted and lashed by stones. And yet does the son of the king ever feel powerless? I do not think so; the presence of the comforter is in our midst in Iraq, so be brave and continue. The Holy Spirit in us is not just a power; He is God himself, who is with us. To God the church in Iraq is beautiful also; so let us love her and work alongside her to make her more so.”

RESPONSE: I will never lose faith that Jesus is developing His beautiful bride around the entire world.

PRAYER: Pray that Iraqi Christians will continue to perceive themselves as Jesus’ beautiful bride.

NIV Devotionals for Couples - Who Influences Us?

Who Influences Us?

2 Chronicles 24:1–25

Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest.

Think about how other people have influenced your life. One couple I know, Brett and Kayla, were profoundly influenced by others. Brett had played multiple sports in high school and enjoyed a wonderful mentoring relationship with one of his coaches. But after he started playing sports in college, he found that it wasn’t the game he cared about as much as it was his former coach, and he ended up dropping out of athletics. Similarly, Kayla became active in her church’s women’s ministries because of the great lessons she had learned from the women’s leader in her previous church.

Influence is powerful. We often want to emulate good leaders and follow their examples. The high priest Jehoiada was a great influence on little King Joash, who was only seven years old when he became king. Joash needed some help ruling the kingdom, and Jehoiada stepped up as his helper and adviser. He chose two wives for Joash and helped Joash restore the temple in Jerusalem and resume worship of the Lord there.

Joash was heavily influenced by others—first by Jehoiada, who led him in the ways of God, and then, after Jehoiada died, by the officials of Judah, who abandoned God and worshiped other gods. When Jehoiada’s son Zechariah spoke out against idol worship, warning the king and his people that God would forsake them because they had forsaken God, Joash and his leaders had Zechariah stoned to death.

Like Joash, we have people who have had a major impact on our lives, and we feel lost when they are no longer with us. We may even think that we need others to step in to fill that gap. But like Joash, depending too much on others can prevent us from learning to make critical decisions in our lives.

The best role of a parent, mentor, teacher or pastor is that of helping others to learn how to think for themselves. If Jehoiada had taught Joash to think for himself, the story of this king might have had a different ending. Instead of being led by others, Joash might have been a strong, decisive king who set before the people a lifelong pattern of trusting God for guidance and direction.

My friends James and Elaine relied on the leadership and guidance of key people until they were in a couples’ group at church. The rule in that group was that everyone was expected to think about and discuss key issues and situations. The group then asked everyone to take one more step: Each couple was expected to reach their own conclusion on an issue, based on Scriptural guidelines, and explain to the group how they had come to that decision.

Learning and practicing that kind of decision making changed their marriage forever as James and Elaine learned how to think for themselves. Reaching their own conclusions on various issues became a lifelong pattern of learning God’s lessons without leaning on others to do it for them.

John R. Throop

Let’s Talk
  • Who has greatly influenced our lives? Did they teach us mostly what to think or how to think? Describe their approaches.
  • How are leaders or role models helpful for us? How can they be negative influences? How can we turn negative influences into positive results?
  • What are some good ways for us to blend the positive influences of others into our lives? How can their lessons shape our faith and our values?

LHM Advent Devotion - December 23, 2017 "SHEPHERD KING"

Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries


December 23, 2017

"And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel."
~ Matthew 2:6 (ESV)

When Herod asked the chief priests and scribes where Jesus was to be born, they quoted this passage above which comes originally from Micah 5. They were mainly concerned with the place specified-Bethlehem-but they should have taken notice of another word as well: "shepherd."

What does it mean to shepherd people? It means to do the kinds of things shepherds does for their animals-to meet their basic needs such as food and water, to protect them from danger, and to help them when they become sick or lost. A good shepherd puts the welfare of the sheep above his own. He will gladly stay up all night if it's necessary to save a sheep's life, or walk for hours over rough ground looking for a lost one. A good shepherd loves his sheep and is willing to sacrifice much for them.

Now this is no good description of Herod, the ruler of Judea at that time. He was more likely to harm his subjects than to help them. The same is true for many rulers throughout human history. But a new king of Israel was coming, one who would be, not an exploiter, but a shepherd. Jesus, that baby laid in an animal's feedbox to sleep, would grow up to be the Good Shepherd for everyone who trusts in Him.

That's a strange kind of ruler. What kind of a king would spend His time with the poor and the sick and the homeless, caring for their needs? What kind of king touches people with skin diseases and eats with the outcasts of society, the people no one else wants? What kind of a king suffers and dies for the good of His people, laying down His own life so that they will live forever and not be destroyed?

This is Jesus, the Shepherd-King of Israel. This is Jesus, my shepherd and yours.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, watch over me always 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).
When Herod asked the chief priests and scribes where Jesus was to be born, they quoted this passage...

Devociones de Adviento de 23 de Diciembre de 2017 "El Rey pastor"


"El Rey pastor"

23 de Diciembre de 2017

"Y tú, oh Belén, en la tierra de Judá, no eres la menor entre las ciudades reinantes de Judá, porque de ti saldrá un gobernante que será el pastor de mi pueblo Israel".
~ Mateo 2:6 (NTV)

Cuando Herodes preguntó a los principales sacerdotes y escribas dónde iba a nacer Jesús, le citaron este pasaje que viene de Miqueas 5. Su mayor preocupación era el lugar--Belén--pero también debería haber notado otra palabra: "pastor".

¿Qué significa pastorear personas? Significa hacer las mismas cosas que los pastores hacen por sus animales: satisfacer sus necesidades básicas, como alimento y agua, protegerles del peligro y ayudarles cuando están enfermos o perdidos. Un buen pastor pone el bienestar de sus ovejas por encima del propio. De ser necesario, se quedará velando toda la noche para salvar la vida de una oveja, o caminará durante horas por terrenos escabrosos buscando a una oveja perdida. Un buen pastor ama a sus ovejas y está dispuesto a sacrificar mucho por ellas.

Lo anterior no es una buena descripción de Herodes, el gobernador de Judea en esos tiempos. Más que ayudar a sus súbditos, Herodes les hacía daño. Lo mismo podemos decir de muchos gobernantes de antaño y actuales. Pero un rey nuevo estaba viniendo a Israel, uno que no habría de ser explotador, sino pastor. Jesús, ese niño acostado en un pesebre, crecería para ser el Buen Pastor de todo aquél que confíe en él.

Es una clase extraña de gobernante. ¿Qué clase de rey pasaría tiempo atendiendo a las necesidades de los pobres, enfermos y vagabundos? ¿Qué clase de rey toca a las personas con enfermedades contagiosas y come con los marginados, con aquellos a quienes nadie quiere? ¿Qué clase de rey sufre y muere por el bien de su pueblo, sacrificando su vida para que ellos no sean destruidos, sino que vivan para siempre?

Sólo Jesús es el Pastor-Rey de Israel. Ese Jesús es mi pastor y el tuyo también.

ORACIÓN: Querido Jesús, gracias por ser mi Pastor y mi Rey. Amén.

© Copyright 2017 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones. Que a través de estos devocionales, la Palabra de Dios te refresque en tu diario caminar.
Cuando Herodes preguntó a los principales sacerdotes y escribas dónde iba a nacer Jesús, le citaron este pasaje que viene de Miqueas 5