#DailyDevotion Watch! Jesus Is Coming.
Mark 1324“Now, after the misery of that time the sun will turn dark, the moon will stop shining, 25and the stars will be falling from the sky. And the powers of heaven will be shaken. 26Then people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27And then He will send the angels and gather His chosen ones from the north, south, east, and west, and from one end of the world to the other…32“No one knows about that day or hour, not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father. 33Be careful and watch, because you don’t know when it will happen. 34It’s like a man who went on a trip. As he left home, he put his slaves in charge, assigned work to everyone, and ordered the doorkeeper to watch. 35Watch, then, because you don’t know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at the time when the rooster crows, or early in the morning. 36Make sure he doesn’t come suddenly and find you asleep. 37What I tell you, I tell everyone: ‘Watch!”
The image Jesus is giving us is from Daniel 7, 13“In the visions during the night I saw One coming with the clouds of the heavens like the Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14And He was given glory, power to rule, and a kingdom, so that all peoples, nations, and those of every language should serve Him. His authority is everlasting and will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.” Revelation 1 also says, 7“Look, He is coming in the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even the men who pierced Him, and all the people on earth will mourn over Him. So it will be. Amen.”
Jesus and his angels will first root up all that is wicked in the world as in the parable of the wheat and the tares from Matthew 13. Then he will raise from the dead all those who believed in him first and then those who are still living he will transform from one end of the earth to another. (1 Cor. 15, 1 Thess. 4)
Much about that day will be like the day of his crucifixion for it will be a day of judgment. The Sun will turn dark, the moon will look as blood, stars will be falling from the sky and the powers of heaven will be shaken. All authority in heaven and on earth and under the earth will be makes subject to Jesus. The old order will pass away and a new order under Jesus and the Church will be established.
But we don’t know when this is going to take place. All the signs have been in place throughout the time of the Church, most especially since the fall of Jerusalem. It is as Jesus says, “It’s like a man who went on a trip. As he left home, he put his slaves in charge, assigned work to everyone, and ordered the doorkeeper to watch.” So we are to keep watch. Watch for Jesus. Watch over yourselves. You don’t want to found asleep in a stupor of sin. Rather be faithfully remain awake by trusting in Jesus, taking advantage of the means of grace (baptism, absolution, the Supper, preaching of the Word, and mutual Christian edification), fighting against your sinful inclinations and loving your neighbor.
Heavenly Father, Jesus has warned us to remain awake and watch for his coming. Grant us your Holy Spirit that we may faithfully watch for him and not be found sleeping at this revelation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Jesus, Our King Has Saved Us
When they were getting near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of His disciples. 2“Go into the village ahead of you,” He told them, “and just as you go into it, you’ll find a young donkey tied up that no one ever sat on. Untie it and bring it to Me. 3And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing that?’ say, “The Lord needs it, and He will promptly send it back here.’” 4They went and found the colt tied to the gate, outside in the street, and they started to untie it. “What are you doing, untying the colt?” some of the men standing there asked them. 6They answered them just as Jesus had told them, and the men let them go.7So they brought the colt to Jesus, put their garments on it, and He sat on it. 8Many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they cut in the fields. 9Those who went ahead and those who followed Him were shouting: “Our Savior! Blessed is He Who is coming in the Lord’s name! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Our Savior — in the highest heavens!”
In Zech. 9 it is written, 9 “Be very happy, people of Zion! Shout aloud, people of Jerusalem. You see, your King will come to you, He is righteous and victorious, poor, and riding on a donkey, on a young burro, the colt of a donkey.” Hence the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. As it was written it had to be done. The image from Zechariah is interesting because he is both righteous and victorious and he is poor. Quite an image for Israel’s king. Yet there Jesus is. He is righteous. No one could but any blame on him. He is victorious. He had raised Lazarus from the dead, healed the sick, raised other dead, gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. He was on his way to conquer sin and death. As to his poverty, he did not have a place to lay his head.
This was a sign given to the people through the prophet. The people see it, recall it and believe it as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Then comes Psalm 118 to further fill out the details about what is happening and about to happen. The quoted text is, 25“O LORD, please save. Lord, please give us success. 26Blessed is He Who comes in the LORD’s name. We bless You in the LORD’s temple.” So the crows shout, “Hossana,” (save us). They are looking for the redemption of Israel. They cry out, “Blessed is He Who comes in the LORD’s name.” Indeed it is in the name of the LORD Jesus comes, teaches, heals, and eventually dies and rises again. Jesus did everything the Father had given him to do.
Why the Psalm has much that joyful and victorious it implies that there are some unpleasant things that must happen first. Verse 5“In my trouble I called on the LORD,” lets us know there will be trouble. Verse 13“You pushed hard to make me fall, but the LORD helped me,” again warns of opposition. Verse 22“The Stone the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone,” tells us he would be rejected. Yet despite the trouble and rejection he has to face, Psalm 118 reveals that Jesus would overcome it all. His Father would see to it that he achieves the success planned through him, the salvation of the world.
Almighty God and Father, you foretold the opposition to your Son and his victory over all his enemies for us. May you fill our mouths with shouts of hosanna as we receive Jesus as our LORD and our King. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Participating In The Means Of Grace Makes You Blameless
1 Cor. 18He will strengthen you to the end so that no one can accuse you of anything on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9You can depend on God, Who called you to the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.
What wonderful comforting words coming from St. Paul before he start slamming this congregation for all of its divisiveness. They will need these words as Paul progresses into this letter. These are words we need to hear when we know we really made a mess of the life we have by selfish, self-centered living.
We should take these words to heart. Paul isn’t just trying to butter them up. He speaks this word many times to many congregations. We need to take them to heart and firmly plant them there. Jesus will give us the strength we need to make it to the day of our LORD Jesus Christ. On that day, no one will be able to accuse us of anything. You can bank on that. But you may say, “But what about all these sins I have committed?” Foolish person, are you ignoring the means of Grace Jesus has provided you to overcome your guilty conscience? He has given you baptism, the pastor’s absolution, his Holy Supper, the preached Word and the mutual conversation and consolation of fellow Christians all which bestow upon us the forgiveness of sins so we may walk now and stand on that day with a clear conscience. For the sake of these things, God is no longer holding on to your sins, why should you?
Just to be clear, St. Paul speaks elsewhere, Eph. 1 5 “In Him He chose us to be holy and blameless before Him…” Eph. 5 27 “27to have the church stand before Him as something wonderful, without a spot or a wrinkle or anything like that; yes, it should be holy and without a fault.” Col. 122 “…but now by dying in His human body He has made you friends in order to have you stand before Him without sin or fault or blame…” Hebrews 914 “How much more will the blood of Christ, Who by the everlasting Spirit offered Himself without a spot to God, wash our consciences clean from dead works to worship the living God?” Even Jude says, 24 “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and have you stand without a fault and with great joy before His glory…”
We should take note that it is Jesus, working through these means to make us blameless before him on the great day of his revelation. Sure, our flesh is full of sin, guilt and shame but our new man is pure, holy, without wrinkle, spot, stain or blame. Jesus promises to present us blameless before the Father on that day. He is raising us from the dead with new immortal bodies which are sinless like his glorious resurrected body.
You can depend on God who called you into fellowship with his Son. Fellowship, it is a participation in the blood of Christ. We fellowship with Christ Jesus in and through the means of grace. God has provided these for us to participate with Christ in his death and resurrection so we may participate in Jesus’ resurrection, ascension and glory.
Gracious Father, you have provided us with the means of grace so we may fellowship with Christ now and on the Last Day so we may blameless before your throne. Grant us faith in these means so that we make ourselves available to them all our days. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Your Congregation Has Been Blessed By God
1 Corinthians 13may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4“I am always thanking God for you because of His grace which was given to you in Christ Jesus. 5For in Him you have been made rich in every way, in speech and knowledge 6of every kind, as the truth of Christ we spoke was confirmed in you.7And so you don’t lack any gift as you eagerly look for our Lord Jesus Christ to appear again.
Some see this opening greeting as a mere formality following the formula for letters of the day. I’m sure they are correct to a point. Paul is following a formula but there is no ‘mere’ about it. When Paul wishes that God the Father and our LORD Jesus Christ give you grace and peace, he really means it. He is indeed blessing those who read and those who hears these words with grace and peace. Grace, God good, undeserved favor he wants the Corinthians to receive. Peace, that wholeness and fullness of all the bounties the LORD provides to the earth and the stillness of mind that only comes from knowing Jesus.
Would that all pastors give thanks to God for the congregations put under their care. We should remember Paul mostly wrote letters or we only kept the letters to those who were mainly having some sort of problem. The Corinthians were so bad we have two quite lengthy ones. On top of that Clement of Rome sent a couple also, mostly covering the same issues. Clement could have just written go back and read Paul’s letters to you. Nevertheless Paul thanks God for them because of the grace given them in Christ Jesus. We should thank God for our congregations similarly.
Verses 5, 6, and 7 pretty much set up the rest of Paul’s letter to them. For he will be going over with them how they are acting as if God had not given them grace and peace or he had not made them rich in every way, in speech and knowledge or if they were lacking and gift from God.
But God had enriched the Corinthian congregation in speech and knowledge of every kind. By this he means pastors who had the word of God, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of every kind is true knowledge of God and his Christ, who they are, what they have done, what was and is their attitude towards them and the world. Simply put God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them because of his great love for the world.
Finally, he reminds them they don’t lack anything as they await Christ Jesus to return in glory, which a most important teaching. Jesus is coming back and when he does he is raising all the dead and giving eternal life to all who believed in him and eternal perdition to those who rejected him. As all this applies to the Corinthian congregations it applies to your congregation as well. You should believe it and live as if it were true, because it is.
Heavenly Father, grant us such faith that we believe you have bestowed upon us your grace and peace and have given our congregations every good gift that we need to live out our lives in you and in service to one another. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion All Our Righteousness Is As Filthy Rags
Isaiah 64 6We’ve all become like an unclean person, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags. All of us fade like a leaf, and our wrongs carry us away like the wind. 7There’s no one calling on Your name or rousing himself to take hold of You, since You have hidden Your face from us. You have handed us over to the tyranny of our wrongdoing. 8But now, LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay and You the Potter, and all of us are the work of Your hands. 9Don’t be too angry, LORD, and don’t remember wrong forever. Now please consider, we are all Your people.
Isaiah cries to the LORD and confesses his sin and the sin of the people to the LORD as he sees the coming destruction upon Israel at the hands of the Assyrians. We have all become like an unclean person and all our righteousness are like filthy rags. Not the most pleasant image. The were numerous things in the Torah that could make a person unclean. One would be a woman in her menstrual cycle. That would be the reference to “filthy rags.” Yes, I know, not the image you want in your mind. Yet if you looked at the deeds of the Israelites, you would see not much good among them. That is why the LORD is sending them into exile. Idol worship, sexual immorality, oppression of the poor, widow, orphan and stranger were the highlights of the LORD’s complaints against them. Looking at our own culture and day we may well wonder when the LORD is going to send the Assyrians to make short work of us. Should they or we have any good works, any righteousness we could point to in and of ourselves, perhaps it would be best to confess this with Isaiah who most certainly was a righteous man if there was one and leave up to Christ whether or not to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
The people of Israel were fading like a leaf. Indeed, all our sins make us less than ourselves, which is to be in the image and likeness to God. Their sins carried them away to parts of the Assyrian empire never to be seen or heard of again. Let us examine ourselves to enlighten any dark recesses of our hearts, minds and souls and expose them to the light of Christ that we may, through faith in Christ, we given the weight of eternal glory.
Isaiah’s complaint before the LORD confesses there is no one who calls upon the name of the LORD because the LORD had hidden himself from them. Indeed, when we turn our backs on the LORD and do what our sinful flesh wants to do, there is the danger the LORD will leave us to ourselves and punish us with letting us sin all the more. Isaiah says, “You have handed us over to the tyranny of our wrongdoing.” Addictions to sinful behavior are a manifestation of this handing over. We decide we know better than God and engage in sexual immorality, drunkenness, idolatry of wealth, you name it, some behavior outside the will of God and God lets us go and serve these false gods from whom we are wanting every good. We think they give us freedom and then they control every aspect of our lives.
In this passage is one of the few places the LORD is referred to as “Father.” He is turning to God not only as a master and lord, but as someone who would care for us. Fathers are to look after their children, protect them, teach them how to live, and love them. He is hoping our Father in heaven would discipline his people and bring them back. He’s hoping he would have mercy upon them. The image of the potter and clay he calls out so that the LORD would remember we are fragile people whom he has made. Our make up is weak. Isaiah appeals to the LORD not to remember our sins and wrongdoing but to recall that we are his people. With contrite hearts then let up appeal to our Father in heaven as Isaiah does our weakness and our sinfulness. Call him to remember he has called us to be his people through baptism into his Son Jesus Christ and ask him to give us greater faith that we may put off our sins and to live for him.
Merciful God and Father, we are sinful and unclean for we have not done what you have commanded us. For the sake of Jesus Christ forget our sins, cleanse us with your Holy Spirit and remember we are your people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion The LORD Did Descend But In Humility
Isaiah 64 I wish You would tear the heavens apart and come down. Your presence would shake the mountains 2as when fire burns up dry twigs and makes water boil. We want Your enemies to know Your name. Your presence makes the nations tremble 3when You do fearful things we don’t expect. Yes, if you would come down, Your presence would shake the mountains. 4No one has ever heard with his ears or seen with his eyes any god except You Who does things for those who look to Him with confidence. 5You encourage those who delight in doing right and remember You in Your ways. Though You were angry, we still sinned — . we’ve continued long in sins, and can we be saved?
Isaiah, the eighth century prophet during the time northern Israel was about to be devoured by the Assyrians for all their sinning and seeing the future makes this proclamation. He desires that the LORD would come down and make his presence known to all the people as he did on Mt. Sinai when the Israelites first crossed over the Red Sea. He thinks this would make the nations tremble and bring about the repentance of Israel. He is right that if the LORD did this the people would tremble and the nations would fear.
However, he is wrong if he thinks this would bring about the repentance and return to the LORD his God. The Israelites saw the plagues of Egypt. The crossed through the Red Sea on dry land with the waters held up like a wall on either side of them. They the LORD in the pillar of fire by day night and cloud by day. The saw the LORD come down upon Mt. Sinai with fire, smoke, the trumpet blaring and heard the voice of the Almighty giving them the commandments. As soon as Moses went up the mountain they broke the commandments they heard and worshipped the golden calf. Even throughout the wilderness travels and seeing the might of the LORD they still rebelled against the LORD time and again. Shows of might would not covert the minds of the wicked.
Yet there were those who still looked to God with confidence. There were those who delighted in doing right and remembering the LORD in all his ways. They were given confidence by the LORD hopeful word given to Isaiah. Even they still sinned and continued in sins. Isaiah askes, “Can we be saved?”
Well the LORD did come down but not by fire and might but with the praise of the angels to lonely shepherds in a field outside of Bethlehem. He came down lowly and humble as an infant. He came to his people in the humility of sinful flesh and welcomed those who sinned against him. He came to them on a hill outside of Jerusalem, was lifted up upon the cross in his shame and died on a cross. In his humility and gentleness he saved his people from their sins. Not only did he save his people but he save all humanity, every person from their sins, guilt and death. He calls out in his name of Jesus to turn from our sins and to trust his sacrifice on the cross for our redemption. It is in this sacrifice the nations tremble at their sins, repent and return to the LORD their Maker and rejoice in Jesus Christ, the LORD and Savior.
Merciful God and Father, you did not come down in righteous anger to convert the nations but sent your son Jesus Christ humbly to achieve our salvation. When he return in glory and might may we be found having faith in him and enter into his glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Whatever You Do To Jesus’ Pastors That You Do To Him
Matt. 2537“Then the righteous will ask Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give you a drink?…39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You? 40“And the King will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for one of My brothers here, however humble, you did for Me. 41“Then He will say to those at His left, ‘Go away from Me, you cursed ones, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…44“Then they, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t help You?’ 45Then He will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you didn’t do for one of these, however humble, you didn’t do for Me.’ 46Then these will go away to everlasting punishment, but the righteous to everlasting life.”
Oftentimes we read things in Scripture that are descriptive as causative when they are in fact just descriptive. Such is the case in this parable of judgment. We read it and skip the first verses of this parable and go straight to verse thirty-five. They want to make the list of things the sheep and goats did “for one of My brothers” as causative for judgments rather descriptive. Like the previous parable of the talents, where it is not the amount made that is determinative of the judgment but the attitude and belief towards the master that counted, it is not the works themselves towards the brothers that matters but rather why the works were done or not done in the first place.
The brothers of Jesus in this parable are the apostles and everyone who is called into the office of the Holy Ministry i.e. pastors, evangelists and missionaries. True, Jesus does want us to treat everyone well. True, in a wide sense all of Jesus’ disciples are his brothers (but elsewhere in Matthew he would say brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, i.e. the family of God). But Jesus is not pointing to everyone or ever disciple in this parable, i.e. look to your left and your right. He’s pointing to these (i.e. those he called into the office of the ministry).
Throughout history, while many Christians are indeed imprisoned, abused and killed, the focal point is the pastor (strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter). They more often than not are the targets hoping to get the followers to stop following Jesus. They are hungry, naked, a stranger, thirsty, and imprisoned for the sake of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. How we treat them Jesus says here is how we treat him. Just to make it clearer, the goats to whom Jesus accuses of never doing these acts of mercy cannot be said to never had fed the poor, clothed the naked, visited them in prison or welcomed someone into their home. As Jesus said in John 13, 20“I tell you the truth, if you receive anyone I send, you receive Me, and if you receive Me, you receive Him Who sent Me.” Paul says in Romans 10, 15“How can men preach if they’re not sent?” What you think of Jesus is what you think of those he sent. How you treat them is exactly how you would treat Jesus if he were before. Those who have faith in Jesus will treat his pastors well and those who don’t will abuse them. If you don’t have faith in Jesus you will tormented in a place made to torment angels. So trust in Jesus and don’t go to that place.
Gracious and merciful Father, grant us faith in Christ Jesus so we can see in those you send to us, to give us the good news, his image and likeness that we may treat them as we would so treat you and then receive our LORD Jesus Christ’s commendation at the judgment. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.