Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Daily Readings for THURSDAY, January 25, 2018 - Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle
Acts 26:9-21

Daily Readings
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

Opening Sentence
Their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends of the world.
~ Psalm 19:4

Prayer of the Day (Collect)
O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Confession and Forgiveness

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
God is light; in him there in no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and son not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
~ John 1:5b-8

Most holy and merciful Father, We confess to you and to one another, that we have sinned against you by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not fully loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not always had in us the mind of Christ. You alone know how often we have grieved you by wasting your gifts, by wandering from your ways. Forgive us, we pray you, most merciful Father; And free us from our sin. Renew in us the grace and strength of your Holy Spirit, for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen

The Lessons

First Lesson: Acts 26:9-21
"Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities. "With this in mind, I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, when at midday along the road, your Excellency, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my companions. When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.' I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' The Lord answered, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles-- to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' "After that, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.

Psalm: Psalm 67 Deus misereatur
1   May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
2   Let your ways be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.
3   Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
4   Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations upon earth.
5   Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
6   The earth has brought forth her increase;
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.
7   May God give us his blessing,
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.
Second Lesson: Galatians 1:11-24
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother. In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me.

Gospel: Matthew 10:16-22
"See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Here ends the Lessons

Closing Prayer
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
~ Numbers 6:22-27

Let us bless the Lord. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God! Alleluia!

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. The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

Illumination depicting Paul's conversion,
from Livre d'Heures d'Étienne Chevalier (c. 1450–1460)
The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

Today the church remembers The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle.

Paul has been called by some modern writers "the true founder of the church" and even "the first Christian." Although we may reject such statements as exaggerations, they do reflect the enormous importance of this man in the development of our faith and our community in history.

The occasion of Paul's conversion has long been regarded as a major turning point in Christian history. He had been an enthusiastic Jew, a Pharisee, in fact, and had studied under one of the great rabbis of his day, Gamaliel. Paul advocated and witnessed the stoning of Stephen (see December 26) and was enroute to Damascus to assist in the further persecution of the Christians there when his dramatic conversion took place.

From then on his life was totally devoted to the service of Christ, and especially to the conversion of non-Jewish people. His letters and the Book of Acts give us a wealth of information regarding his life and work. He founded churches in Philippi, Athens, Thessalonica, Corinth, and many other important cities of his day. He is generally believed to have died with Peter in Rome, a victim of the persecution of Nero.

O God, grant that we may hold in remembrance your apostle Paul's wonderful conversion, and show our thanksgiving by following his holy teaching. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer of the Day for THURSDAY, January 25, 2018 - Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Verse of the Day for THURSDAY, January 25, 2018

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Read all of Philippians 4

Listen to Philippians 4

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

Morning Devotions with Chaplain Kenny - Singing through the Darkness

Singing through the Darkness

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
~ Acts 16:25 (NIV)

The world watches with great interest when a Christian faces adversity. Every one of us faces hardship. Every one of us loses loved ones. Every one of us faces sickness. Every one of us encounters difficulties and hardships in life. But when it happens to Christians, nonbelievers watch to see if our faith is genuine. That is the time to show them what Christ can do, even in hard times.

Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas, who were thrown into prison for preaching the gospel. Their backs had been ripped open with a whip, and at midnight, in the most unsanitary of conditions, in a filthy environment, with their legs stretched apart in shackles causing excruciating pain, Paul and Silas held a worship service. The Bible tells us that “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (verse 25). Suddenly an earthquake shook the prison, their shackles fell off, the walls came down, and they were free to go.

The Philippian jailer, assuming they were free, knew he would be tortured and then put to death. He took out his own sword and was ready to kill himself. But Paul said, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (verse 28).

Then the jailer said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (verse 30). Paul and Silas made impact on him.

In the same way, there are people watching you right now. They’re developing an opinion about God on the basis of your life. It has been said that a Christian is an epistle, written by God and read by man. You are the only Bible that some people ever will read. They will be looking at you, and that may determine the course their lives will take.
Almighty God, our hope and strength, without you we falter. Help us to follow Christ and to live according to your will. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
In Jesus,
Chaplain Kenny

Seeking God?
Click HERE to find out more about how to have a personal
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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.
Christians are epistles, written by God and read by man. What does your life say?

Un Dia a la Vez - El amor verdadero se prueba

El amor verdadero se prueba

No amemos de palabra ni de labios para afuera, sino con hechos y de verdad.
~ 1 Juan 3:18 (NVI)

Hace una semana vi a través de mi princesa mayor, Naty, el sufrimiento por amor. Pasaba por su primera pena amorosa, una gran desilusión. Así que me dijo: «¿Por qué, mami? ¿Por qué tengo que sufrir? ¿Por qué perdí tanto tiempo creyendo en el amor de esa persona?». Me partía el corazón verla llorar a veces sin consuelo y me hizo recordar el versículo sobre el amor que Dios nos dejó en su Palabra: «El amor es sufrido» (1 Corintios 13:4, RV-60).

Sin duda, todos hemos sufrido o sufriremos por amor. En ese momento mis palabras no traían consuelo a su corazón quebrantado, pero en medio de su dolor Dios me recordó varias cosas: El verdadero amor pasa por pruebas para ver su fortaleza. Me afirmó que Dios nos ama de manera incondicional y que nos cuida de tener más sufrimiento.

A veces nosotros creemos que estamos con la persona adecuada y nos aferramos a ella, aun sabiendo que ni la aprueban nuestros padres y mucho menos Dios.

Como Dios nos ama, nos permite ver cosas y nos muestra de alguna u otra manera que estamos equivocados. Sin embargo, nosotros, en nuestra terquedad, seguimos adelante. Así que cuando viene la desilusión, nos acordamos que nos lo habían advertido. Por eso el consejo a mi hija ahora en medio del dolor es: «Tienes que aferrarte más que nunca a Dios y esperar en Él. Dios sanará tus heridas y te mostrará el verdadero amor».

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - HOSPITALITY TO ANGELS


Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
~ Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

As we see in Hebrews chapter twelve, once we “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,” we will be aware of how we should then live. The writer now turns to the issue of entertaining strangers. After reminding us to keep on loving each other, he now shares that love should also be extended to the strangers in our midst. They could possibly even be angels. I’m sure the Jewish background believers hearing or reading this letter would immediately hearken back to Father Abraham when three strangers passed by one day. He extended full hospitality to them only to discover they were heavenly beings on a special mission.

Aunty Alice was the wife of Pastor Allen Yuan in China, known for her gracious hospitality to everyone who entered her door right until her death in the summer of 2010. Pastor Allen was imprisoned for twenty-one years and eight months for refusing to join the government controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement—the official Protestant church under the communist regime.

Alice had five children and her mother-in-law to care for during those many years of her husband’s absence. She was also branded a “counter-revolutionary” and thus could also secure a hard-labor job moving construction rubble from one site to another by heavy push wagons. This still did not generate enough resources to provide for the all the family’s needs.

One night her mother-in-law informed her, “Alice, there is no rice left to feed the children tomorrow morning!” Alice was angry and complained to the Lord that He had promised to care for her. She opened her Bible and her eyes fell on the Matthew scripture when Jesus says that if God cares for the birds, will He not also care for you? Her heart was rebuked. She asked forgiveness from the Lord and went to sleep peacefully.

The next morning before six o’clock there was a knock on the door. Alice slipped on her house coat and shuffled to the door. There stood a stranger with a big box in her hands. As was her custom, Alice invited her in. She stoked up the fire in the central heating oven and put the kettle on for tea. But the stranger just walked to the table, set down the box and began to leave.

Alice said, “Wait a minute. What’s your name?” The lady replied, “I have no name. Just thank God for that box!” And the stranger disappeared.

With trembling hands Alice opened the box to find rice, meat and vegetables. Also in it was an envelope with more money than two month’s salary. She knew it was truly an angelic visit.

RESPONSE: Today I will be open to entertaining strangers realizing that God may be in the relationship.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for the way You work. Help me be an active participant in Your plans.

NIV Devotions for Men - Hopeful Fans

Hopeful Fans

Zephaniah 3:14–20
Recommended Reading: Jeremiah 29:4–13; Ezekiel 37:24–28; 1 Peter 3:15

Every team in professional sports has a group of devoted followers you might call hopeful fans. Without them, the team couldn’t survive. These aren’t rabid fans who constantly vacillate between intense hatred and delight during each game, or fickle fans who cheer enthusiastically during winning streaks but lose interest when the team loses games. These fans remain true no matter what. They’re happy when their team wins, certainly, but still wear their colors proudly when they lose. For them, there’s always next year.

Israel possessed an unparalleled record of losing seasons. Nations and dynasties flourished and vanished while God’s people experienced more losers than winners. The nation’s continued existence was in itself a miracle. A casual observer might wonder why God didn’t get tired of losing. He could have sold off the team long before. Yet God never gave up his franchise. The people of Israel were his chosen people. He knew they’d eventually win. With God, next year is always a certainty.

This message came to Israel through Zephaniah when storm clouds of devastation and defeat darkened the nation’s horizon. While he had earlier joined the chorus of prophets who were predicting Israel’s suffering, Zephaniah also added words of hope. The reign of King Josiah included a season of righteousness in Judah, delaying God’s judgment. The nation showed all the signs of a “rebuilding team.” The people changed their old habits and eliminated evil practices.

Unfortunately, Josiah’s reforms didn’t last long. Losing ways ran deep within the nation. Yet hope became the refuge of a small group determined to remain faithful. God’s hopeful fans stood fast. They realized that “next year” might not happen for a long time, but it would eventually come. God had promised.

The same God who kept his word to Israel keeps his promises to you. You can count on it. So live as a hopeful fan. God’s promise describes both his relationship with Israel and the one he longs to have with you: “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

To Take Away
  • What do you think God wants to accomplish in and through your life?
  • Why didn’t God give up on Israel? Why doesn’t God give up on us?
  • In what ways are you inspired by God’s promise to always be with you?

Girlfriends in God - A Light in the Dark

A Light in the Dark

Today’s Truth

Calmness can lay great offenses to rest.

Friend to Friend

I could feel a wave of tension the minute the words left my mouth.

I hadn’t said anything wrong, nothing offensive or provoking. My colleague and I had been trying to come up with a solution to business problem. And, simply, I’d made a suggestion she disagreed with. Although only a cell phone connected us, I could feel her disapproval.

I’ll be honest. Everything in me wanted to backpedal, to interrupt her strong and emotional response with a lawyer-esque defense. As she declared her dead-opposite position, I mentally gathered all the reasons she should consider my point of view. I wanted to explain until we reached agreement, using my powers of coercion to get us back on the same side. The mere presence of tension made me both uncomfortable and afraid. What if the sting of disagreement changed our relationship?

Besides, I really did believe my position held merit. And I knew without a doubt that I hadn’t intended any offense. I simply want to share an alternative point of view. For whatever reason, she wasn’t in a position to hear it or receive it.

Somehow, in spite of my urge to respond in kind, I decided to take a deep breath. To listen, rather than delivering a defense. To acknowledge her point of view, regardless of our different perspectives. As a result, our conversation calmed almost as quickly as it escalated. As a result, we came up with a compromised solution to our problem and moved forward. And our momentary disagreement was abandoned for new growth.

If only all my interpersonal disagreements ended so beautifully. Unfortunately, I often allow my own emotions to rise rather than allowing the calmness to reign.

Recently I read through the book of Ecclesiastes, and in the middle of King Solomon’s deep ponderings on the meaning of life, I found seven words that stopped me in my tracks:

“Calmness can lay great offenses to rest” (Ecclesiastes 10:4b). Whoa. How many times have I longed for more calmness in my life? And yet, how often have I allowed calmness to reign in my mind and heart and conversations?

The truth is, you and I have a choice. When a friend or spouse or child or stranger reacts with intensity and emotion, we don’t have to respond in kind. We can allow calmness to buffer our emotion and words, bringing a safe and kind tone even to necessary disagreement. In the process, offenses can be minimized or disappear altogether, like a spark that never finds dry wood to enflame.

Let your words be a blanket of calmness to those longing for the warmth of peace.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, Jesus set the example of calmness in the face of opposition and rejection. He brought peace where there was pain, rest where there was weariness. As ambassadors of your love and grace, Father, show us how to be a balm of calmness to our relationships, with loved ones as well as strangers, so the world can know your peace even in the storm.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

How do you handle disagreement and tension? Do you react and retaliate, or withdraw and isolate? Does tension make you want to run for the hills? Or have you learned to lean into the hard places because of the growth and connection that can result? Tension and conflict can be the means to tremendous growth when we allow the calmness of God’s presence to create an atmosphere of safety and grace.

More from the Girlfriends

Are you exhausted from the never-ending struggle to know who you are and prove your worth? God offers rest and wholeness, relief from the drive to be enough. It’s time for a new way to live. Begin 2018 with the book that can spark the heart-transition you’ve bene longing for: I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is.

Seeking God?
Click HERE to find out more about how to have a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God