DAILY DEVOTIONS FROM LUTHERAN HOUR MINISTRIES

Tested”


Devotion

Psalm 66:10-12 – For You, O God, have tested us; You have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; You laid a crushing burden on our backs; You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet You have brought us out to a place of abundance.

Why does God permit suffering? The question is often a stumbling block for unbelievers and baffling to believers. Upon hearing of the murder of Galilean pilgrims and of eighteen people killed by a falling tower, Jesus did not answer the question that may have been on His listeners’ minds (and on our minds, too): “Why them?” The purpose for the deaths remained unknown. Jesus instead warned of a greater, eternal disaster. Those who had died were not worse sinners than others, He said, “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5b).

God’s purposes are often hidden and not for us to know. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us” (Deuteronomy 29:29a). Our psalm reveals to us a story of suffering as it describes the sorrow and pain endured by the people of Israel. They had endured the “crushing burden” of slavery and the oppressive might of conquering enemies who rode over them. But God did not abandon His suffering people. He freed them from slavery and led them through the wilderness for forty years to humble them and to test them to know what was in their hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2). The Israelites passed through water as God “turned the sea into dry land” (Psalm 66:6a). God brought them out of the wilderness into the land He had promised to them, “to a place of abundance.”

There is another instance of suffering in which the purpose has been revealed to us. God, for the sake of our salvation, gave His Son over to the suffering of the cross. Jesus was caught in a net of betrayal and lies. He bore the crushing burden of our sins. His enemies and “the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53b) for a time overcame Him. He endured the fiery pain of the cross, suffering on our behalf the penalty of death. Though Israel had often been unfaithful in times of testing, Jesus remained faithful and obedient to His Father in life and death. God raised His Son from death and exalted Him “to a place of abundance” at His right hand as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus has revealed to us that trouble and trials will come our way: “In the world you will have tribulation.” The purpose of that tribulation, the reasons for our suffering, may not be made known to us. But we can trust the conquering power and promise of our crucified and risen Lord, who tells us, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). He endured all that the world threw at Him—rejection, hatred, betrayal, grief, loss, pain, and death itself—and by His resurrection overcame it all. He will walk with us through suffering and trial and, according to His will and perfect timing, bring us to a place of abundance in His presence forever.

THE PRAYER: Jesus, be our help and our hope in every trial. Strengthen us with the promises of Your Word. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.

Reflection Questions:

1. Have you been tested in your life? How so?

2. Can you name areas in your life where you feel tested or challenged on a regular basis?

3. When unexpected difficulties arise, what is your typical first reaction? Is this reaction helpful or constructive? Do you wish you would respond differently?

Today’s Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 8-9    Psalms 60    John 2

ALIMENTO DIARIO

“Somos probados”


Tú, Dios nuestro, nos has puesto a prueba; nos has refinado como se refina la plata. Pero nos dejaste caer en la trampa; ¡impusiste sobre nosotros una pesada carga! Caballos y jinetes han pasado sobre nosotros; hemos pasado por el fuego y por el agua, pero al final nos has llevado a la abundancia. Salmo 66:10-12


¿Por qué permite Dios el sufrimiento? La pregunta es a menudo un obstáculo para los incrédulos y un desconcierto para los creyentes. Al enterarse del asesinato de peregrinos galileanos y de dieciocho personas muertas tras la caída de una torre, Jesús no respondió a la pregunta que pudo haber estado en la mente de sus oyentes (y también en la nuestra): “¿Por qué ellos?” El propósito de esas muertes seguía siendo desconocido. Sin embargo, Jesús advirtió sobre un desastre mayor y eterno. Quienes habían muerto no eran peores pecadores que otros, dijo, “Y si ustedes no se arrepienten, también morirán como ellos” (Lucas 13:5b).

Los propósitos de Dios a menudo están ocultos. “Las cosas secretas pertenecen al Señor nuestro Dios, pero las reveladas son para nosotros” (Deuteronomio 29:29a). Nuestro salmo nos revela una historia de sufrimiento, ya que describe la tristeza y el dolor soportados por el pueblo de Israel. Habían soportado la “carga aplastante” de la esclavitud y el poder implacable de los enemigos que los oprimían. Pero Dios no abandonó a su pueblo sufriente. Al contrario, los liberó de la esclavitud y los condujo por el desierto durante cuarenta años para probarlos y así saber qué había en sus corazones (Deuteronomio 8:2). Los israelitas pasaron por el agua cuando Dios “convirtió el mar en tierra seca” (Salmo 66:6a). Dios los sacó del desierto a la tierra que les había prometido, “a un lugar de abundancia”.

Hay otra instancia de sufrimiento en la cual el propósito nos ha sido revelado. Dios, por el bien de nuestra salvación, entregó a su Hijo al sufrimiento de la cruz. Jesús fue atrapado en una red de traición y mentiras. Él llevó la carga aplastante de nuestros pecados. Sus enemigos y “el poder de las tinieblas” (Lucas 22:53b) por un tiempo lo vencieron. Soportó el ardiente dolor de la cruz, sufriendo en lugar nuestro la pena de muerte. Aunque Israel a menudo había sido infiel en tiempos de prueba, Jesús permaneció fiel y obediente a su Padre en la vida y en la muerte. Dios levantó a su Hijo de la muerte y lo exaltó a un lugar de abundancia a su diestra como Rey de reyes y Señor de señores.

Jesús nos ha advertido que vamos a tener problemas y pruebas: “En el mundo tendrás aflicción”. El propósito de esa aflicción, las razones de nuestro sufrimiento, pueden no ser conocidas por nosotros. Pero podemos confiar en el poder de conquista y la promesa de nuestro Señor crucificado y resucitado, quien nos dice: “Pero confíen, yo he vencido al mundo” (Juan 16:33). Él soportó todo lo que el mundo le arrojó: rechazo, odio, traición, dolor, pérdida, dolor y la muerte misma, y con su resurrección lo superó todo. Él caminará con nosotros a través del sufrimiento y la prueba y, de acuerdo con su voluntad y tiempo perfecto, nos llevará a un lugar de abundancia en su presencia para siempre.

ORACIÓN: Jesús, sé nuestra ayuda y esperanza en cada prueba y fortalécenos con las promesas de tu Palabra. Amén.

Dra. Carol Geisler


Para reflexionar:

  1. ¿En qué áreas de tu vida te sientes probado o desafiado regularmente?
  2. Cuando surgen dificultades inesperadas, ¿cuál es tu primera reacción? ¿Es esa reacción útil o constructiva? ¿Quisieras reaccionar de manera diferente?

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