Friday, December 20, 2019

The Daily Lectionary for FRIDAY, December 20, 2019

The Daily Lectionary
FRIDAY, December 20, 2019
(Revised Common Lectionary Year A)

(Show the light of your countenance)
Prayer for Israel’s Restoration
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
1  Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
     you who lead Joseph like a flock!
   You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2    before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
   Stir up your might,
     and come to save us!

3  Restore us, O God;
     let your face shine, that we may be saved.

4  O Lord God of hosts,
     how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5  You have fed them with the bread of tears,
     and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6  You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
     our enemies laugh among themselves.

7  Restore us, O God of hosts;
     let your face shine, that we may be saved.

17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
     the one whom you made strong for yourself.
18 Then we will never turn back from you;
     give us life, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
     let your face shine, that we may be saved.

(David prays for God’s faithfulness toward Israel)
David’s Prayer
7:18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

(God’s Son sent in the fullness of time)
4:1 My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; 2 but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. 3 So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets.]

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.

The Daily Lectionary is a three year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year A. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2020, we will be in Year B. The year which ended at Advent 2019 was Year C. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest on what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts.
The Daily Lectionary for FRIDAY, December 20, 2019
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 2 Samuel 7:18-22; Galatians 4:1-7

The Daily Prayer for FRIDAY, December 20, 2019

The Daily Prayer
FRIDAY, December 20, 2019

Bishop N. T. Wright of Durham has written, “The whole point of what Jesus was up to was that he was doing close up, in the present, what he was promising long-term in the future. And what he was promising for that future and doing in the present was not saving souls for a disembodied eternity but rescuing people from the corruption and decay of the way the world presently is so they could enjoy, already in the present, that renewal of creation which is God’s ultimate purpose—and so they could thus become colleagues and partners in that large project.”

Thank you, Lord, that your promises are not for some distant future but are to be claimed right now, today. Teach us what we must do and say in our local communities and in our larger world to participate in your promise. Amen.

Verse of the Day for FRIDAY, December 20, 2019

Luke 2:1, 4-5 (NIV)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. … So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
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.

Un dia a la Vez - Viernes 20 de Diciembre de 2019

Convertidos de verdad

Mis queridos hermanos, como han obedecido siempre [...] lleven a cabo su salvación con temor y temblor.
Filipenses 2:12 (NVI)

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

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

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

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

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

Pero todo dependerá de cada uno de nosotros.

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

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
Algo que ha enternecido mi corazón hacia Dios es conocer que Él siempre me buscó.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - Friday, December 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

Men of the Bible - Friday, December 20, 2019


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.
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.

LHM Daily Devotions December 20, 2019 - FOUND OUT


Dec. 20, 2019

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with Child from the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18 (ESV)

The Holy Spirit never says anything by accident. That's why the words in Matthew 1 are so disturbing: Mary "was found to be with child." What lies behind those words, "was found"? It doesn't sound like she had the chance to break the news gently. It sounds rather like someone found out—like there was a shocking moment of discovery.

And we know what goes with those moments, don't we? Terror. Anger. Yelling. Disbelief. A great deal of pain. Family upset. I rather doubt Mary's home was a happy place, at least for a while.

Of course, Mary had a perfectly innocent explanation—though given human nature, I wonder how many people believed her. But we have our "found out" moments, too. Those sickening moments when a friend or family member confronts us with a truth we tried to keep hidden. The evidence they cite—phone calls, text messages, internet searches, the eyewitness of a friend or neighbor. Our own terror and shame, as we wonder what the long-hidden truth will do to our families, our jobs, our reputations.

In times like these there is nothing to do but flee to the One who saves us from shame and fear—to Jesus, who knows the worst about us and loves us anyway. There is no need to worry about being "found out" with Him. He already knows. And knowing, He has already laid down His life for us, doing everything necessary to rescue us and to set us free from our terror and guilt.

He will never abandon us, no matter what we are found to have done. He says, "Come to Me," and He means it. He will not shout at us. He will not ask us unanswerable questions like "Why?" He will receive us, wash us, heal us, and make us new. He will keep us as His own forever.

With Jesus our Savior, there is never any "found out." There is only "found"—we are found safe, in Him.

THE PRAYER: Dearest Lord, hold on to me when I am terrified and ashamed. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
  • What part do you hate most about being "found out" when you have done wrong?
  • When has someone shown you mercy and compassion when you didn't deserve it?
  • If you are willing, tell of a time when Jesus comforted you when you felt guilty or ashamed.

Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo. Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
What part do you hate most about being "found out" when you have done wrong?

CPTLN devocional del 20 de Diciembre de 2019 - Se encontró


Se encontró

20 de Diciembre de 2019

El nacimiento de Jesucristo fue así: María, la madre de Jesús, estaba comprometida con José, pero antes de unirse como esposos se encontró que ella había concebido del Espíritu Santo.
Mateo 1:18 (RVC)

El Espíritu Santo nunca dice nada por accidente. Es por eso que las palabras en Mateo 1 son tan inquietantes: María "se encontró que ella había concebido". ¿Qué hay detrás de las palabras "se encontró"? Terror. Enfado. Escándalo. Incredulidad. Mucho dolor. Familia molesta. Dudo que la casa de María fuera un lugar feliz, al menos por un tiempo.

María tenía una explicación perfectamente inocente, aunque dada la naturaleza humana, me pregunto cuántas personas le creyeron. Pero nosotros también tenemos nuestros momentos de ser "descubiertos", cuando un amigo o pariente nos confronta con una verdad que tratamos de ocultar. Sentimos terror y vergüenza cuando nos preguntamos qué hará la verdad largamente oculta a nuestras familias, nuestros trabajos, nuestra reputación.

En momentos como estos no hay nada que hacer sino huir hacia aquel que nos salva de la vergüenza y el miedo, a Jesús. No hay necesidad de preocuparse por ser "descubierto" por él. Él ya lo sabe. Y porque lo sabe dio su vida por nosotros, haciendo todo lo necesario para rescatarnos y liberarnos de nuestro terror y culpa.

Él nunca nos abandonará, no importa lo que se descubra que hayamos hecho. Él dice: "Ven a mí", y lo dice en serio. No nos gritará. No nos hará preguntas que no tienen respuesta como "¿Por qué?" Nos recibirá, nos lavará, nos sanará, y nos hará nuevos.

ORACIÓN: Querido Señor, sostenme cuando esté aterrorizado y avergonzado. En el nombre de Jesús. Amén.

Dra. Kari Vo

Para reflexionar:
  • ¿Alguna vez has recibido misericordia y compasión cuando no lo merecías?
  • ¿Cuán difícil te resulta consolar y perdonar a un ser querido que ha hecho algo inapropiado?

© Copyright 2019 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones. ¡Utilice estas devociones en sus boletines! Usado con permiso. Todos los derechos reservados por la Int'l LLL.
¿Alguna vez has recibido misericordia y compasión cuando no lo merecías?

Lời Sống Hằng Ngày - Thất Bại Là Điều Không Thể

Thất Bại Là Điều Không Thể

Đọc: Nê-hê-mi 6:1-9 | Đọc Kinh Thánh suốt năm: Mi-chê 1-3; Khải Huyền 11

Công việc nầy được hoàn thành là nhờ Đức Chúa Trời của chúng tôi giúp đỡ.
—Nê-hê-mi 6:16

“Thất bại là điều không thể!” Đây là lời của bà Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), người nổi tiếng với lập trường bất di bất dịch về quyền phụ nữ ở Hoa Kỳ. Mặc dù bà liên tục đối mặt với những sự chỉ trích và về sau bị bắt giữ, xét xử và bị tuyên án phạm tội vì bỏ phiếu bất hợp pháp, bà Anthony đã thề sẽ không bao giờ từ bỏ cuộc chiến để giành quyền bầu cử cho phụ nữ, tin rằng động cơ của bà là chính đáng. Mặc dù bà không còn sống để nhìn thấy thành quả của công sức mình, nhưng tuyên bố của bà đã được chứng minh là đúng. Năm 1920, bản sửa đổi thứ mười chín của Hiến pháp đã cho phụ nữ quyền bầu cử.

Thất bại không phải là lựa chọn của Nê-hê-mi, bởi vì ông có Đấng Giúp Đỡ Quyền Năng là Đức Chúa Trời. Sau khi cầu xin Chúa ban phước cho mục tiêu xây lại vách thành Giê-ru-sa-lem, Nê-hê-mi và những người trở về Giê-ru-sa-lem sau cuộc lưu đày tại Ba-by-lôn đã nỗ lực để hoàn thành mục tiêu. Vách thành rất cần thiết để bảo vệ dân sự khỏi kẻ thù. Nhưng họ đã đối diện với sự chống đối dưới hình thức lừa dối và đe dọa. Nê-hê-mi không để cho sự chống đối cản trở mình. Ông thông báo cho những người chống đối rằng: “Tôi bận làm công trình lớn” (Nê. 6:3). Sau đó, ông cầu nguyện: “xin làm cho tay con mạnh mẽ” (c.9). Nhờ kiên trì, công việc đã hoàn tất (c.15).

Chúa ban cho Nê-hê-mi sức mạnh để kiên trì khi bị chống đối. Có nhiệm vụ nào mà bạn bị cám dỗ bỏ cuộc không? Hãy cầu xin Chúa chu cấp những điều cần thiết để bạn tiếp tục công việc.
Bạn thường đối diện với sự chống đối như thế nào? Đâu là điều bạn sẵn sàng tranh đấu, dù gặp nhiều chống đối?
Lạy Cha kính yêu, xin giúp đỡ con để con tiếp tục hoàn thành công việc mà Ngài giao phó dù phải trả giá thế nào.

© 2019 Lời Sống Hằng Ngày
“Thất bại là điều không thể!” Đây là lời của bà Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), người nổi tiếng với lập trường bất di bất dịch về quyền phụ nữ ở Hoa Kỳ.