DAILY DEVOTIONS FROM LUTHERAN HOUR MINISTRIES

“That Great Multitude”


Devotion

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

God wants to make you a new person—just like the apostle Paul wrote in our passage above. Being in Christ means to be part of that multitude right now, at this very moment, not in the future. It means to live a life focused on eternity and not on life’s material possessions that will not follow us beyond the tomb.

Salvation belongs to God. It’s a gift of His mercy and love. It’s not imposed, however; it’s given freely and therefore can be rejected. If you are not yet a member of God’s people through Jesus Christ, God wants you to be among that great multitude, too. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or how bad your past has been. God wants to clothe you with His mercy, forgiveness, and love through Jesus Christ.

Lutheran author and television media producer Rev. Dr. Herman Gockel tells a story about a painter in the 16th century who was looking for a model. He wanted to describe the worst of humanity using a human face. One evening, sitting in a tavern, there comes in a dirty, unshaven, stinking, miserable-looking man. He was exactly the model he was looking for.

The painter jumped up from his seat, approached the man, offered him some money, and invited him to his studio the next day to serve as his model. That strange, miserable-looking man accepted the painter’s offer. Next morning, the painter was waiting anxiously for his model. What a surprise, when a showered, shaved, and well-dressed man entered his studio. “Oh no!” shouted the painter, completely disappointed: “I wanted you exactly as I saw and met you at the tavern yesterday!”

So with God; He wants you as you are. He doesn’t want you as the best-dressed and most-qualified person you think you are. God wants you exactly as you are, with your sinful nature and all the negative consequences it has produced in your life. He wants to clothe you with His gracious mercy, forgiveness, and love through Jesus Christ. He wants you to be in that great multitude with Him in eternity, where you shall hunger no more, thirst no more, and where the sun shall not strike you, nor any scorching heat. For Jesus will be your Shepherd, and He will guide you to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from your eyes (see Revelation 21:4).

Through Jesus, God has made new life possible for each one of us. The Father invites you into this redeemed new life and by His Holy Spirit will keep and sustain you in faith unto life everlasting—when, one day, all believers will gather with Him forevermore.

It is our prayer that you are a part of that great multitude, too.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, lead me in the way everlasting, the way Jesus won for us on the cross and through His glorious resurrection. In His Name we pray. Amen.

Taken from “That Great Multitude,” a message excerpt by Rev. Dr. Nilo Figur

Reflection Questions:

1. Was there ever a time in your life when you felt like you were able to start over—completely?

2. What is it about the Person of Jesus that has allowed us to be reconciled to God the Father?

3. As a Christian how do you live as a new creation?

Today’s Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 1-2    Luke 24:36-53

ALIMENTO DIARIO

“Una nueva creación”


De modo que si alguno está en Cristo, ya es una nueva creación; atrás ha quedado lo viejo: ¡ahora ya todo es nuevo! Y todo esto proviene de Dios, quien nos reconcilió consigo mismo a través de Cristo y nos dio el ministerio de la reconciliación. 2 Corintios 5:17-18


Dios quiere hacerte una nueva persona, tal como lo escribió el apóstol Pablo en el pasaje de hoy. Estar en Cristo significa ser una nueva creación ya en este momento, no en el futuro. Significa vivir una vida centrada en la eternidad y no en las posesiones materiales de la vida que no nos seguirán más allá de la tumba.

La salvación le pertenece a Dios. Es un regalo de su misericordia y amor. Sin embargo, no se impone; Dios la entrega libremente y, por lo tanto, puede ser rechazada. Si aún no eres miembro del pueblo de Dios a través de Jesucristo, Dios quiere que lo seas. No importa quién eres, dónde vives o qué tan malo ha sido tu pasado. Dios quiere vestirte con su misericordia, perdón y amor a través de Jesucristo.

El Dr. Herman Gockel, autor luterano y productor de programas de televisión, cuenta la historia de un pintor del siglo XVI que estaba buscando una modelo para describir lo peor de la humanidad usando la cara de un humano. Una tarde, sentado en una taberna, llega un hombre sucio, sin afeitar, oloroso y de aspecto miserable. Era exactamente el modelo que estaba buscando.

El pintor saltó de su asiento, se acercó al hombre, le ofreció algo de dinero y lo invitó a su estudio al día siguiente para que le sirviera de modelo, lo cual el hombre aceptó. Grande fue la sorpresa del pintor a la mañana siguiente cuando, al abrir la puerta de su estudio, se encontró con un hombre bañado, afeitado y bien vestido. “¡Oh no!”, gritó el pintor, completamente decepcionado: “¡Te quería exactamente como te vi ayer en la taberna!”

Con Dios es igual: Él te quiere así como eres, con tu naturaleza pecaminosa y todas las consecuencias negativas que el pecado ha producido en tu vida. Él quiere vestirte con su misericordiosa gracia, perdón y amor a través de Jesucristo. Él quiere que seas parte de esa gran multitud que vivirá con Él en la eternidad, donde ya no tendrás hambre ni sed, y donde el sol no te golpee, ni ningún calor abrasador. Porque Jesús será tu Pastor que te guiará a manantiales de agua viva, y Dios enjugará cada lágrima de tus ojos (ver Apocalipsis 21:4).

A través de Jesús, Dios ha hecho posible una nueva vida para cada uno de nosotros. El Padre te invita a esta nueva vida redimida y por su Espíritu Santo te mantendrá y sostendrá en la fe hasta la vida eterna, cuando todos los creyentes se reunirán con Él para siempre.

ORACIÓN: Padre celestial, guíame en el camino eterno que Jesús ganó por nosotros en la cruz y a través de su gloriosa resurrección. En su nombre oramos. Amén.

Tomado de “La Gran Multitud”, Rev. Nilo Figur


Para reflexionar:

  1. ¿Alguna vez en tu vida sentiste que podías comenzar de nuevo por completo?
  2. ¿Cómo demuestras en tu vida que eres una “nueva creación”?

DAILY DEVOTIONS FROM LUTHERAN HOUR MINISTRIES

“Closeness to Jesus”


Devotion

1 Peter 2:2-3 – Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Peter uses a really interesting picture of the Lord in his letter. He compares God to a nursing mother, feeding her newborn babies in her arms.

When my son was born, he weighed a little over five pounds. He had trouble sucking. It took him forever to nurse. He spent several days in intensive care, and then we brought him home.

The next several months are a blur. My son had to nurse every two hours, and it took him a full hour to complete a feeding. That meant that 12 hours out of every 24 he spent feeding. You can imagine how sleep deprived I was!

But we did gain one wonderful gift from all that time spent feeding. To nurse the baby, you have to hold him close to your body. The baby snuggles up in your arms. He is comfortable, safe, and warm—in the arms of someone who loves him very much. I think God intended this. It’s one of the reasons He designed the human body the way He did.

In our reading for today, Peter invites us to have the same kind of closeness with Jesus. He urges us to be like newborn babies, crying out for pure spiritual milk. And where does that pure milk come from? It comes from the Lord, the Source of our life. He teaches us what we need to know. But He does more than that. He draws us close to Him, where we can be safe, comforted, and peaceful. He knows that we need this, just as we need to grow in our understanding of Him.

To be sure, we don’t always feel a sense of closeness with Jesus. There were times when my son fell asleep in my arms. There were other times when he was preoccupied with something else: a tummy ache, a strange noise, or his daddy waving at him and trying to catch his attention. I was the last thing on his mind at those times. And that’s okay! He still got the milk he needed. He still went on growing and getting stronger. He knew that I would be there for him, whether he was focusing on me or not. He knew that I loved him.

And we know that about Jesus, too. There are times when we remember His presence and there are times when we don’t. There are times when we feel Him close and there are times when we can’t feel anything. That’s okay. Jesus is still there, still feeding us, still protecting and caring for us just as He always has been. He will not leave us. After all, He is the One who suffered, died, and rose again to make us children of God. Absolutely He will continue to feed us and help us grow up to full maturity in God’s family.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for giving me the spiritual food that I need. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. Have you ever fed a baby? How did you hold it, and how did the experience feel?

2. New babies need a lot of care. How does God care for new Christians?

3. What do you do when you cannot feel God’s presence? Does it help?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 28-29    Luke 23:26-56

ALIMENTO DIARIO

“Cerca de Jesús”


Busquen, como los niños recién nacidos, la leche espiritual no adulterada, para que por medio de ella crezcan y sean salvos, si es que han probado ya la bondad del Señor. 1 Pedro 2:2-3


En su carta, Pedro usa una imagen del Señor realmente interesante: compara a Dios con una madre que alimenta con su leche a sus bebés recién nacidos.

Al nacer, mi hijo pesaba un poco más de cinco libras y al principio tuvo problemas para succionar, por lo que le llevaba una eternidad amamantar. Pasó varios días en cuidados intensivos hasta que lo pudimos llevar a casa. Los meses que siguieron son borrosos. Tenía que amamantarlo cada dos horas, y cada vez le llevaba una hora hasta terminar. Eso significaba que 12 de cada 24 horas las pasaba alimentándose. ¡Puedes imaginar lo poco que podía dormir!

Pero todas esas horas invertidas en alimentarlo nos dieron un maravilloso regalo. Para amamantar a un bebé, hay que sostenerlo bien cerca del cuerpo. Allí el bebé se acurruca y se siente cómodo, seguro y abrigado en los brazos de alguien que lo ama mucho. Creo que Dios quiso que así fuera, y es por ello que diseñó el cuerpo humano como lo hizo.

En nuestra lectura de hoy, Pedro nos invita a tener el mismo tipo de cercanía con Jesús: nos insta a ser como bebés recién nacidos, clamando por pura leche espiritual. ¿De dónde viene esa leche pura? Viene del Señor, la fuente de nuestra vida. Él no solo nos enseña lo que necesitamos saber, sino que también nos acerca a Él, donde podemos estar seguros, abrigados y en paz. Él sabe que necesitamos esto, así como necesitamos crecer en nuestra comprensión de Él.

Por cierto que no siempre nos sentimos cerca de Jesús. Hubo momentos en que mi hijo se durmió en mis brazos. Hubo otros momentos en que estaba ocupado con otras cosas: un dolor de barriga, un ruido extraño, o con su papá que intentaba llamarle la atención. ¡Y está bien! Igual consiguió la leche que necesitaba y seguía creciendo y volviéndose más fuerte. Sabía que estaría allí para él, tanto si se estaba centrando en mí como si no. Sabía que yo lo amaba.

Con Jesús es igual. Hay momentos en que recordamos su presencia y hay momentos en que no. Hay momentos en que lo sentimos cerca y hay momentos en que no sentimos nada. Está bien. Jesús sigue estando a nuestro lado alimentándonos, protegiéndonos y cuidándonos, como siempre lo ha estado. Él no nos va a dejar. Después de todo, Él es quien sufrió, murió y resucitó para hacernos hijos de Dios. Él continuará alimentándonos y ayudándonos a crecer hasta la plena madurez en la familia de Dios.

ORACIÓN: Querido Señor, gracias por darme la comida espiritual que necesito. Amén.

Dra. Kari Vo


Para reflexionar:

  1. Los bebés recién nacidos necesitan mucho cuidado. ¿Cómo se ocupa Dios por los cristianos recién nacidos?
  2. ¿Qué haces cuando no puedes sentir la presencia de Dios? ¿Dónde buscas ayuda?

DAILY DEVOTIONS FROM LUTHERAN HOUR MINISTRIES HOME DAILY DEVOTIONS

“Open-Hearted Love”


Devotion

Acts 6:1a, 2-3, 5 – Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose … And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty …” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

Acts 6 tells us that the new Christian church had the habit of giving out food to those who needed it every day, much like our modern food banks. A lot of the recipients were widows—women who had no husbands or grown children to care for them. So the church took care of them, and this was good.

But even in those days there were groups that didn’t get along well with one another. For example, there were the Hellenists, who were Jews who had picked up a lot of foreign Greek culture. Then there were the so-called Hebrews, who rejected all that foreign stuff. There were people from both groups in the baby Christian church. And sure enough, there was trouble.

The Hellenists complained their widows were getting overlooked in the food distribution. But notice what the church did! They didn’t just blow off their complaint. They didn’t argue or respond with complaints of their own. No, they listened. They took the problem seriously. The whole church treated this problem as if it were happening to them personally, regardless of ethnic group.

Then they figured out a solution. They chose seven leaders who were “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” They weren’t just warm bodies, or the first seven people they could guilt into taking the job. No, these were the best. And notice their names! Every single name on that list is a Greek name. The leaders’ hearts were so open and loving that they made sure the people appointed to handle the problem came from the very ethnic group that was suffering.

Where does this kind of love come from, that can look at “those people” and see them as “us people”? Only from Jesus. He is the only One who can break down cultural and ethnic walls in such a complete and wonderful way. And no wonder, because He Himself is our peace—with God and with one another. As Paul writes, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility … through the cross … For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the Cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:13-14, 16b, 18-20).

THE PRAYER: Father, help us to love one another with Jesus’ own love. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. Who do you think of as “those people”?

2. What would it take for you to think of them as “us people”?

3. What first step might you take in Jesus’ love to begin thinking of them as “us people”?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 24-27    Luke 23:1-25

ALIMENTO DIARIO

“Amor total”


En aquellos días el número de los discípulos iba en aumento, pero también comenzaron las murmuraciones de los griegos en contra de los hebreos… Entonces los doce convocaron a todos los discípulos y les dijeron: «No está bien que desatendamos la proclamación de la palabra de Dios por atender a las mesas. Así que, hermanos, busquen entre todos ustedes a siete varones de buen testimonio, que estén llenos del Espíritu Santo y de sabiduría, para que se encarguen de este trabajo…” Esta propuesta fue del agrado de todos los creyentes, y eligieron a Esteban, que era un varón lleno de fe y del Espíritu Santo, y a Felipe, Prócoro, Nicanor, Timón, Parmenas y Nicolás, un prosélito de Antioquía. Hechos 6:1a, 2-3, 5


Hechos 6 nos dice que la nueva iglesia cristiana tenía la costumbre de repartir comida todos los días a quienes la necesitaban, al igual que nuestros bancos de alimentos modernos. Muchos de los destinatarios eran viudas, mujeres que no tenían esposos ni hijos adultos para cuidarlos. Entonces la iglesia los cuidaba, y esto era bueno.

Pero había grupos que no se llevaban bien entre ellos. Por ejemplo estaban los helenistas, que eran judíos que habían recogido mucha cultura griega extranjera, y también estaban los hebreos, que rechazaban todas esas cosas extrañas. En la primera iglesia cristiana había personas de ambos grupos y, efectivamente, había problemas.

Los helenistas se quejaban de que sus viudas estaban siendo ignoradas en la distribución de alimentos. ¡Pero notemos lo que hizo la iglesia! No ignoraron su queja, no discutieron ni respondieron con sus propias quejas. Al contrario, los escucharon y tomaron en serio el problema. Toda la iglesia lo asumió como si les estuviera sucediendo a ellos mismo, más allá del grupo étnico al cual pertenecieran, y buscaron una solución. Decidieron entonces elegir a siete líderes de buena reputación, que estuvieran llenos del Espíritu y de sabiduría. No eran las primeras siete personas que se les ocurrieron, sino que fueron los mejores para esa tarea. ¿Te has dado cuenta de sus nombres? Cada nombre en esa lista es un nombre griego. Sus corazones estaban tan llenos de amor, que se aseguraron de que las personas elegidas provinieran del mismo grupo étnico que estaba sufriendo.

¿De dónde nace ese tipo de amor que puede mirar a “los otros” y verlos como si fueran uno de “nosotros”? Solo de Jesús. Él es el único que puede derribar las paredes culturales y étnicas de una manera tan completa y maravillosa. Él es nuestra paz con Dios y con los demás. Como escribe Pablo: “Pero ahora, en Cristo Jesús, ustedes, que en otro tiempo estaban lejos, han sido acercados por la sangre de Cristo. Porque él es nuestra paz. De dos pueblos hizo uno solo, al derribar la pared intermedia de separación… mediante la cruz… Por medio de él, unos y otros tenemos acceso al Padre en un mismo Espíritu. Por lo tanto, ustedes ya no son extranjeros ni advenedizos, sino conciudadanos de los santos y miembros de la familia de Dios, y están edificados sobre el fundamento de los apóstoles y profetas, cuya principal piedra angular es Jesucristo mismo”(Efesios 2:13-14 , 16b, 18-20).

ORACIÓN: Padre, ayúdanos a amarnos unos a otros con el amor de Jesús. Amén.

Dra. Kari Vo


Para reflexionar:

  1. ¿A quién consideras “los otros”? ¿Qué haría falta para que pienses en ellos como “nosotros”?
  2. ¿Qué podrías hacer hoy para comenzar a verlos como parte de “nosotros”?

DAILY DEVOTIONS FROM LUTHERAN HOUR MINISTRIES

“Help and Hope”


Devotion

Psalm 146:5-6 – Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.

The majesty of creation is all around us, but we may not always notice it until we see its glory reflected in a beautiful sunset, a delicate flower, or the uncoiling power of a seedling, pushing its way up through rocky soil. Much of God’s wonderful creation is not readily visible. A far-away star named UY Scuti has a radius 1,700 times greater than that of our sun. The deepest part of the ocean, in the Mariana Trench of the western Pacific, is called the Challenger Deep and plunges to a depth of 36,200 feet. Yet all of this ordered splendor pales before the glory of its Creator. By His Word, God created the sun and moon, the planets and distant stars. By His Word, He gathered the waters into seas and carved the ocean depths.

Our psalm praises the Creator as our help and our hope. The God who “made heaven and earth,” who created the great stars and ocean depths, is present to help us. He is “the God of Jacob,” whose mighty acts in Israel’s history brought to fulfillment His promise to send the Savior. When the right time had come, the Word by whom all things were made, who “laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning” (Hebrews 1:10b), took on human flesh. His birth heralded by a star He created—Jesus the Word came to live among us. He came to take onto Himself the sins of the world and carry them to the cross. He suffered the penalty of death that we deserved, the penalty decreed against human creatures lost in willful rebellion against their Creator.

Jesus overcame death and the grave, and He is our help and our hope, our help against the powers of sin and death and our hope of life and resurrection. For the sake of His Son, God, who created the vast oceans, has “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19b). Through Baptism, each of us is a new creation, and in Christ Jesus, we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10).

Our God and Creator “keeps faith forever.” He continues to care for His splendid, ordered creation, causing “springs to gush forth in the valleys” and “the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate” (Psalm 104:10a, 14a). He “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45b). He keeps faith forever and will, when Jesus returns on the Last Day, raise us up from death as He has promised. He will create a new heaven and a new earth where we will live in His presence forever. But there we will have no need of the sun or moon, for the glory of God, our help and hope, will be our light (see Revelation 21:22-23).

THE PRAYER: Thank You, God our Savior, for every gift of Your creation. You have created us anew in Christ Jesus, and we look forward to the day when You will make all things news. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.

Reflection Questions:

1. Do you enjoy the subject of science? What’s something you’ve studied scientifically?

2. What does it say to you that the One who made the universe is faithful and is there to help you?

3. Has your view of the universe, and how it came to be, changed over time? How so?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 23    Psalms 54    Psalms 63    Luke 22:47-71