Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Daily Readings for Sunday, December 6, 2020 — Second Sunday of Advent

 

The Daily Readings
Sunday, December 6, 2020 — Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)


And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Opening Sentences
The readings this week continue the theme of great change coming to a  people struggling with faithfulness. In these readings, we are told to prepare for the day when God will be among us. God’s continuing challenge is clear, but so is  God’s tenderness and care for a weary people, offering “Comfort, comfort…” Isaiah’s vision of comfort and rest comes as a promise to all who struggle. Isaiah gives voice to the emotional ups and downs of a community under stress—surely this people is only “grass”—yet that same people is called out to the hard, future oriented work of preparing the way for the Holy One. 2 Peter acknowledges the mystery of God’s time—Kairos—where one day may be a thousand years by human reckoning, and the community is called to live attentively in this very moment, listening for the call of God. The beginning of Mark’s Gospel is one such moment: the appearance of an unkempt and unruly prophet, calling people to change their lives in the expectation that God is doing something radically new. One is coming into their midst with the power of the Holy Spirit. No one knows the exact time or day, but we can depend on God’s promises and love.
Opening Prayer
God of winter and starlight, you have promised us your presence: to live among us, to right all wrongs, to bring good things to all who wait for your new day. In these dark days, we look for signs of your coming: the sounds of children at play, the music that fills our hearts with anticipation, the company of all who serve the last and the least. Make us at home with righteousness, that we may be ready to walk in your holy ways. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
December is upon us, Lord, and we are on the "greased slide to Christmas". Time seems to get away from us and we get trapped in the buy-wrap-send syndrome. Lord, we confess that it is easy to get involved in all these opportunities and stresses that come our way. Forgive us when we put our faith on a back burner and focus instead on pressures in our lives. Help us to take time to see your beam of direction which shines in our path, leading us to peace and hope. Clear our spirits of the frustrations and anxieties of this season, so that the Light which you are sending into the world will truly shine in and through us to others. These things we pray in the name of Jesus, our Hope and our Light. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
God’s forgiving love has been poured upon each one of us. Hear the good news! You are healed and forgiven! Amen.
First Reading
Isaiah 40:1-11

God’s coming to the exiles
40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

10 Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Commentary

All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always. Troubles are removed in love, when sin is pardoned. In the great atonement of the death of Christ, the mercy of God is exercised to the glory of his justice. In Christ, and his sufferings, true penitents receive of the Lord's hand double for all their sins; for the satisfaction Christ made by his death was of infinite value. The prophet had some reference to the return of the Jews from Babylon. But this is a small event, compared with that pointed out by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament, when John the Baptist proclaimed the approach of Christ. When eastern princes marched through desert countries, ways were prepared for them, and hinderances removed. And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hinderance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. What are all that belongs to fallen man, or all that he does, but as the grass and the flower thereof! And what will all the titles and possessions of a dying sinner avail, when they leave him under condemnation! The word of the Lord can do that for us, which all flesh cannot. The glad tidings of the coming of Christ were to be sent forth to the ends of the earth. Satan is the strong man armed; but our Lord Jesus is stronger; and he shall proceed, and do all that he purposes. Christ is the good Shepherd; he shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a sorrowful spirit. By his word he requires no more service, and by his providence he inflicts no more trouble, than he will strengthen them for. May we know our Shepherd's voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.


Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Righteousness and peace
1 Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.

2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

8 I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.
Commentary

Sooner or later, God will speak peace to his people. If he do not command outward peace, yet he will suggest inward peace; speaking to their hearts by his Spirit. Peace is spoken only to those who turn from sin. All sin is folly, especially backsliding; it is the greatest folly to return to sin. Surely God's salvation is nigh, whatever our difficulties and distresses are. Also, his honour is secured, that glory may dwell in our land. And the truth of the promises is shown by the Divine mercy in sending the Redeemer. The Divine justice is now satisfied by the great atonement. Christ, the way, truth, and life, sprang out of the earth when he took our nature upon him, and Divine justice looked upon him well pleased and satisfied. For his sake all good things, especially his Holy Spirit, are given to those who ask him. Through Christ, the pardoned sinner becomes fruitful in good works, and by looking to and trusting in the Saviour's righteousness, finds his feet set in the way of his steps. Righteousness is a sure guide, both in meeting God, and in following him.


Second Reading
2 Peter 3:8-15a

Waiting for the day of God
3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

15a And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.
Commentary

From the doctrine of Christ's second coming, we are exhorted to purity and godliness. This is the effect of real knowledge. Very exact and universal holiness is enjoined, not resting in any low measure or degree. True Christians look for new heavens and a new earth; freed from the vanity to which things present are subject, and the sin they are polluted with. Those only who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, shall be admitted to dwell in this holy place. He is faithful, who has promised. Those, whose sins are pardoned, and their peace made with God, are the only safe and happy people; therefore follow after peace, and that with all men; follow after holiness as well as peace. Never expect to be found at that day of God in peace, if you are lazy and idle in this your day, in which we must finish the work given us to do. Only the diligent Christian will be the happy Christian in the day of the Lord. Our Lord will suddenly come to us, or shortly call us to him; and shall he find us idle? Learn to make a right use of the patience of our Lord, who as yet delays his coming. Proud, carnal, and corrupt men, seek to wrest some things into a seeming agreement with their wicked doctrines. But this is no reason why St. Paul's epistles, or any other part of the Scriptures, should be laid aside; for men, left to themselves, pervert every gift of God. Then let us seek to have our minds prepared for receiving things hard to be understood, by putting in practice things which are more easy to be understood. But there must be self-denial and suspicion of ourselves, and submission to the authority of Christ Jesus, before we can heartily receive all the truths of the gospel, therefore we are in great danger of rejecting the truth. And whatever opinions and thoughts of men are not according to the law of God, and warranted by it, the believer disclaims and abhors. Those who are led away by error, fall from their own stedfastness. And that we may avoid being led away, we must seek to grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge. Labour to know Christ more clearly, and more fully; to know him so as to be more like him, and to love him better. This is the knowledge of Christ, which the apostle Paul reached after, and desired to attain; and those who taste this effect of the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, will, upon receiving such grace from him, give thanks and praise him, and join in ascribing glory to him now, in the full assurance of doing the same hereafter, for ever.


The Gospel
Mark 1:1-8

John appears from the wilderness

1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Commentary

Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of Christ's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others. The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances, word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.


Here end the Readings

The Apostles’ Creed

  • I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Communion

A nondenominational serving of bread and wine
Many churches around the world are working hard to adapt to online worship, and one challenge is how our members can celebrate communion from home. Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present.
Sending
God is bringing light to our darkness. We are called to go into the world, confident in God’s loving presence, to serve others in need. Go, bringing hope and peace to this darkened world. Go in God’s love. Amen.


The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV).

Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

The Daily Bible Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year B. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2021, we will be in Year C. The year which ended at Advent 2020 was Year A. 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 what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org
Second Sunday of Advent
The readings this week continue the theme of great change coming to a  people struggling with faithfulness. In these readings, we are told to prepare for the day when God will be among us. God’s continuing challenge is clear, but so is  God’s tenderness and care for a weary people, offering “Comfort, comfort…” Isaiah’s vision of comfort and rest comes as a promise to all who struggle. Isaiah gives voice to the emotional ups and downs of a community under stress—surely this people is only “grass”—yet that same people is called out to the hard, future oriented work of preparing the way for the Holy One. 2 Peter acknowledges the mystery of God’s time—Kairos—where one day may be a thousand years by human reckoning, and the community is called to live attentively in this very moment, listening for the call of God. The beginning of Mark’s Gospel is one such moment: the appearance of an unkempt and unruly prophet, calling people to change their lives in the expectation that God is doing something radically new. One is coming into their midst with the power of the Holy Spirit. No one knows the exact time or day, but we can depend on God’s promises and love.
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

Prayer of the Day for Sunday, December 6, 2020

 

Prayer of the Day
Sunday, Sunday, December 6, 2020


“Come!” Everyone who hears this must also say, “Come!” Come, whoever is thirsty; accept the water of life as a gift, whoever wants it.

Lord our God and Father in heaven, be with us and let your face shine upon us, for we are your children. In the midst of all human planning we are your children who seek you alone, who seek your will, your kingdom, and everything you have promised to humankind. Fill our thoughts and feelings with your power so that our lives on earth may belong to you, so that with our whole will we may put every thing we have and are into your hands. For we want to be your children, to have one will with you, Almighty God. We want your kingdom. This is our will, O Lord our God, and it is your will too. Therefore it must come to pass, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Verse of the Day Sunday, December 6, 2020

 

Verse of the Day
Sunday, December 6, 2020


John 10:14-15
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Isaiah describes the great deliverance of the Lord in Is. 40:11 as a joyous event—wonderful news of the love and tenderness of God as He restores His people. As a fulfillment of this, Jesus referred to Himself as the Shepherd of God’s people. The New Testament writers also saw Jesus as their Shepherd. And Revelation 7:17 confirms that He is both God’s Lamb and our Shepherd. God is our loving Shepherd, ready and eager to rescue us from the vicious enemies and troubles that would otherwise overwhelm us.

Read all of John 10

Listen to John 10


Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

Standing Strong Through the Storm — LIFE SENTENCE

 
LIFE SENTENCE

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

In a Sudan prison, Pastor Matta Boush was depressed as he faced thirty years on false charges. A visit from an Irish Catholic sister helped change his outlook. There were others in prison, she said, whose cases were far worse than his. She told him never to ask himself why he was there, but instead to ask for what purpose he was there. From that point, Matta Boush began to minister to his fellow prisoners.

He began prayer meetings for non-Muslims, and numbers grew quickly. One event at the prison made an especially strong impact. A prisoner, just prior to his execution, rather than being fearful, was calm and gave his testimony. He said he was not afraid to die because he knew he would go to heaven. This made such an impression that some of the Muslim guards became Christians.

He was transferred to another prison in the city of El-Obeid. Some Muslims objected to his ministry and prayer meetings, so he was placed in solitary confinement for several months. Away from his God-given work and with too much time to think, depression overtook him again. But the encouragement of friends helped him through the hard times. Returning to the general prison population, he helped lead between 150 and 200 people to Christ.

Later Matta Boush was transferred to El-Khobar prison in Khartoum. There he was able to help build a prison chapel as well as continuing his ministry. In the next ten months, 200 people came to the Lord.

His sudden release indicated that the person ordering it had great authority. As a free man, he contacted churches and visited Nuba refugee camps. He was reunited with his three daughters. His wife, however, had married a Muslim man.

He began providing pastoral care for nine regional churches. He was faithful in sharing the Lord both in and out of prison. No sacrifice was too great to accomplish the goal.

RESPONSE: Today, I will sacrifice my comforts to accomplish the most important goal—sharing Jesus!

PRAYER: Pray for pastors like Matta Boush in prison today around the world. Pray they will lose their own desires and accomplish the Lord’s.


Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.
In a Sudan prison, Pastor Matta Boush was depressed as he faced thirty years on false charges. A visit from an Irish Catholic sister helped change his outlook.

John Piper Devotional — Peace to Those With Whom He’s Pleased

 
Peace to Those With Whom He’s Pleased

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Peace for whom? There is a somber note sounded in the angels’ praise. Peace among men on whom his favor rests. Peace among men with whom he is pleased. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. So Christmas does not bring peace to all.

“This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil.” Or as the aged Simeon said when he saw the child Jesus, “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against…that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” O, how many there are who look out on a bleak and chilly Christmas day and see no more than that.

“He came to his own and his own received him not, but to as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God, to as many as believed on his name.” It was only to his disciples that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

The people who enjoy the peace of God that surpasses all understanding are those who, in everything by prayer and supplication, let their requests be made known to God.

The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” And when we do trust the promises of God and have joy and peace and love, then God is glorified.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men with whom he is pleased—men who would believe.

Peace for whom?

Un dia a la Vez — Cuida tu milagro

 
Cuida tu milagro

Testificando Dios juntamente con ellos, con señales y prodigios y diversos milagros y repartimientos del Espíritu Santo según su voluntad.
Hebreos 2:4, RV-60

La primera vez que escuché la frase «Cuida tu milagro», me llamó mucho la atención. ¿Cuidar mi milagro? ¿Cómo? ¿Por qué? Bueno, estas son preguntas que quizá surjan y tienen muchísimo sentido.

Nosotros oramos por un milagro, ya sea por restauración del matrimonio o por salud o cualquier necesidad. Entonces Dios, que es un Dios de milagros, lo hace para demostrarnos su poder sobrenatural y para que le reconozcamos y honremos. No obstante, una vez que lo hace, nosotros somos los encargados de cuidar ese milagro.

Cuando Dios nos bendice con un milagro, que humanamente es imposible, es cuando más debemos cuidarlo. Nuestra naturaleza tiende al olvido y a la ingratitud y, a la larga, se descuida ese regalo.

En mi caso, fui una tonta en este aspecto, pues una vez que me sanó Dios, empecé a descuidarme en mis comidas. Las consecuencias no fueron otras que varias recaídas que terminaban en el hospital y muy enferma. La cosa siguió así hasta que en uno de esos tantos retrocesos, estando en el hospital, Dios me mostró que ya me había sanado, pero que yo no cuidaba mi milagro. Fue súper fuerte cuando lo comprendí y no me quedó más remedio que humillarme y pedirle perdón a mi Dios.

¡Cuida tu milagro, honra a Dios y da testimonio de su poder!


Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
La primera vez que escuché la frase «Cuida tu milagro», me llamó mucho la atención. ¿Cuidar mi milagro? ¿Cómo? ¿Por qué?

Unser Täglich Brot — Tante Bettina

 

Tante Bettina

Lesung: 1. Johannes 5,1-6 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: Daniel 3-4; 1. Johannes 5

Wir wissen, dass wir die Kinder Gottes lieben, wenn wir Gott lieben und seine Gebote halten.

Es fühlte sich immer wie Weihnachten an, wenn meine Lieblingstante Bettina in meiner Kindheit zu Besuch kam. Sie brachte Star Wars Spielzeug mit oder steckte mir Geld zu, wenn sie wieder ging. Wann immer ich ein paar Tage bei ihr war, füllte sie den Tiefkühlschrank mit Eiscreme und kochte niemals Gemüse. Sie hatte nur wenige Regeln und ich durfte lange wachbleiben. Meine Tante war wunderbar und spiegelte Gottes Großzügigkeit wider. Um aber gesund aufzuwachsen, brauchte ich mehr als die Art und Weise, wie Tante Bettina agierte. Ich brauchte auch meine Eltern, die Erwartungen an mich und mein Verhalten stellten und einforderten.

Gott will auch mehr von mir als Tante Bettina. Während er uns mit überschwänglicher Liebe überschüttet, eine Liebe, die nie wankt, selbst wenn wir uns widersetzen oder weglaufen, so erwartet er auch etwas von uns. Als Gott das Volk anwies wie es leben sollte, gab er ihnen die 10 Gebote, zehn Ratschläge (2. Mose 20,1-17). Weil er sich unserer Selbsttäuschung bewusst war, stellte Gott ganz klare Erwartungen auf: „Wir sollen Gott lieben und seine Gebote halten“ (1. Johannes 5,2).

Glücklicherweise „sind Gottes Gebote nicht schwer“ (V. 3). Durch die Kraft des Heiligen Geistes können wir sie ausleben und Gottes Liebe und Freude erfahren. Seine Liebe zu uns ist unendlich. Aber die Bibel stellt eine Frage, die uns helfen kann zu wissen, ob wir Gott auch lieben: Sind wir seinen Geboten gehorsam, wie uns der Geist auch leitet?

Wir können sagen, dass wir Gott lieben, aber was wir in seiner Kraft tun, das zählt wirklich.
Wann fällt es dir am schwersten, Gott zu gehorchen? Wie bietet diese Verbindung zwischen Gehorsam und Liebe neue Einsichten für dein Leben in Christus?
Herr, ich sage, dass ich dich liebe, aber es ist schwer zu lieben. Es ist schwer zu gehorchen. Hilf mir die Wahrheit zu sehen und dich mit meinen Taten zu lieben.

Von Winn Collier

© 2020 Unser Täglich Brot
Es fühlte sich immer wie Weihnachten an, wenn meine Lieblingstante Bettina in meiner Kindheit zu Besuch kam. Sie brachte Star Wars Spielzeug mit oder steckte mir Geld zu, wenn sie wieder ging.