#DailyDevotion It’s Difficult Because You’re A Spiritual Commie

#DailyDevotion It’s Difficult Because You’re A Spiritual Commie

Luke 16 Then Jesus said to His disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of squandering the man’s property. 2He called the manager. “What’s this I hear about you?’ he asked him.’ Give an account of your management, because you can’t manage my property any longer. 3’What will I do?’ the manager said to himself. “My master is taking my job a away from me. I’m not strong enough to dig; I’m ashamed to beg. 4I know what I’ll do so that when I’ve lost my job people will welcome me into their homes.’ 5So he called everyone who owed his master anything. ‘How much do you owe my master?’ he asked the first. 6“ ‘Eight hundred gallons of oil,’ he answered. “ Take your note,’ he said, “sit down quickly and write “four hundred.” 7“Then he asked another, ‘How much do you owe?’ « ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he answered. “ ‘Take your note,’ he told him, “and write “eight hundred.”  8“And the master praised the dishonest manager for acting so shrewdly. “In dealing with their own kind of people, the men of this world are shrewder than those who are in the light. 9“And I tell you, with the money that’s often used in wrong ways win friends for yourselves so that when it’s gone, you’ll be welcomed into the everlasting homes.

So why is this parable so difficult for some people? It may be they may be too heavenly to do any earthly good. Maybe like the Pharisees they think they are good but really are lovers of money. People in recovery may say such people are religious but not spiritual. Basically religious or godly Christians are offended because Jesus or Jesus through the master praises the unrighteous steward for being shrewd, wise or prudent. If you are offended, well you are too spiritual to be of any earthly use. Well maybe you are more worldly i.e. your true spirituality is tied up in worldly wealth.

So what is the meaning of this parable? Well it’s fairly simple. Two points, a. worldly people know how to use money better than so called children of light b. use your money to buy friends so they welcome you into the eternal tents.

So to a., the steward knowing he’s about to be tossed out on his kiester and will have no place to stay for lack of skills and humility. He devises a plan to cut the amount people owe his master significantly so that they will welcome him into their homes and take care of him. Well Jesus and/or the Master praise him for his shrewdness or wisdom. Now a lot of people will make all sorts of excuses as to why the steward was really doing the master a favor by doing this or make the master some merciful fellow, but none of that is in the text and it really doesn’t make sense culturally either. The point is the steward is using someone else’s wealth to take care of himself.

Now Jesus is calling us to be more wise or shrewd than this unrighteous steward. He tells us to do something our mothers have told us all our growing days is not possible, “Buy friends with money.” Maybe it’s the insult directed at our mothers that get us all up in arms at this. But, the fact of the matter is, if you actually believed what Jesus had said earlier in chapter twelve this would not be a problem. Your problem, my problem is we don’t believe what Jesus said and we are all spiritually communist.

Well what did Jesus teach earlier?  Luk 12:33-34 “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail… (34)  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” You see you won’t sell your possessions and give to the poor. You love and trust your possessions. You think, like a spiritual commie, everyone is getting the same experience in the world to come. You’re lazy and are just happy to get into heaven. Jesus says use your (his) wealth to buy friends of the poor, widow, orphan, foreigner and pastors so when it is of no use (you’re dead) they’ll welcome you into the everlasting homes, the mansions, Jesus has promised elsewhere. So do you believe Jesus or what?

Heavenly Father grant us such faith in Jesus’ promises that we use our earthly wealth in providing for the needy, your image among us, that we may be considered faithful. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Birth Of The Child Guides Our Lives

#DailyDevotion The Birth Of The Child Guides Our Lives

1 Tim. 29Women should dress in decent clothes, modestly and properly, without braiding their hair, without gold, pearls or expensive dresses 10but, as it is proper for women who promise to worship God, with good works. 11A woman should learn in silence, completely submitting herself. 12I don’t allow a woman to teach nor to have authority over a man; she should keep silent. 13The reason is that Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam wasn’t deceived; the woman was deceived and so fell into sin. 15But women, through the birth of the Child, will be saved if they live in faith, love, and holiness, and use good judgment.

After giving men some directions on prayer, Paul turns his attention to the women of the congregation. What? Do women not pray? But I think these directions he is giving to Timothy, because he is the pastor have to do with the corporate worship life, not the private lives of his members. So, again, with the women, when they come to worship, they need not doll themselves up. They are not coming to attract a husband but to worship their Lord Jesus Christ who can see their hearts, their best duds won’t impress him. Instead it is proper for women who promise to worship God dress up with good works. Yes, their proper adornment for the worship of God is the works born of faith throughout the week.

Then comes this passage which tends to drive feminist crazy but should not any woman who is born of God. Paul says that women should learn in silence, submitting herself. We are talking in the context of worship. Now I’m not sure but I can only guess that in the synagogue worship the men could ask questions of the rabbi who was teaching. Now this is not some one off of Paul. In 1 Corinthians, the same letter feminists like to point to because Paul says women should prophesy with their heads covered also says in chapter 1434”the women should be silent in church because they are not allowed to speak. They should submit, as the Law says. 35If there is something they want to know, they should ask their husbands at home. It is a disgrace for a woman to speak in church.”

Paul then gives the reason, Adam was formed first then Eve. On top of that the woman was deceived but Adam wasn’t. Now to be honest, there are some today to say when Paul says men and women, he is referring to husbands and wives because the words in Greek mean the same thing. Well there is something to that. Most certainly wives should be submissive to  their husbands, just as husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Here in Timothy though, in the context of worship (not every interaction of men and women in society), they are modeling Christ and his bride the Church. So I don’t think it’s wives not talking to their husbands but speaking with authority. In the Church, during worship, men should have authority over women. It is a return to the relationship before the Fall.

Funny enough that Paul mentions the Fall as women should not have authority over men because Eve was deceived. The corollary is not only was Adam not deceived; he sinned outright. He knew what he was doing. Never the less, men are given the responsibility for leading worship, teaching and preaching in the Church and the home. Finally, there is the enigmatic statement from Paul 15”But women, through the birth of the Child, will be saved…” The text doesn’t say women there. The verb just says he/she/it will be saved. Paul has been arguing Adam then Eve. One could say, “He will be saved.” Then the verbs in the rest of verse turn to plural. Of course we are all saved through the birth of the Child, the child Jesus. The promised one in Gen. 3:15, 22:18 and Luke 1:31. His birth saves us if we remain in love, godliness and holiness with sober thinking. The important thing for us is the birth of the child, Jesus who fulfills the covenant for us, for our salvation. Everything else flows from that act of love.

Almighty and merciful God, grant us your Holy Spirit that we may in true humility submit to your will and your ways, to the glory of the name of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord in who name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion How To Live Godly & Peaceful Lives

#DailyDevotion How To Live Godly & Peaceful Lives

1 Tim. 2  I urge you, as most important of all, to ask, pray, plead, and give thanks for all people, 2for kings and all who are over us, so that we may live quietly and peacefully and be godly and noble in every way. 3This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4Who wants all people to be saved and to come to know the truth. 5There is one God, and One Who brings God and men together, the Man Christ Jesus, 6Who gave Himself as a ransom to free all people, and this was announced at the right times. 7For this purpose I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I’m telling the truth and not lying) to teach the non-Jews to believe the truth. So I want the men to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, not in a mood of anger or argument.

Paul encourages Timothy, and by extension us, to pray. Not just pray but ask, pray, plead and give than for all people, for kings and all authorities. Is there much difference between asking, praying and pleading? Not really. Pleading may seem a bit more intense form of asking. But not this, it isn’t for ourselves, at least not initially. No we are called to pray and the like for others, for all people, kings and authorities. If you pay attention to the general prayer on Sunday in any decent congregation, you will see such prayers being offered up.

And note, Paul says to give thanks. What are we giving thanks for? For all the good things we have already received? That might be part of it but far more likely Paul is saying give thanks for the thinks we just asked about as if they were already answered with yes. No doubt Paul remembers the word of Christ in Mark 11:24 “That’s why I tell you, anything you ask for in prayer, believe that you received it, and you will have it.” If you pray as Jesus teaches and believe you have already received it there is nothing left to do but to give thanks.

Now there is a purpose in these prayers, “that we may live quietly and peacefully and be godly and noble in every way. 3This is good and pleases God our Savior” If we are praying and giving thanks for these people and God is answering our prayers, they will be too busy enjoying all of God’s blessings to give us any trouble. Of course we also won’t be giving them any trouble as we will be submitting to all authorities unless they command us to break God’s laws and our faith in Christ. God also wants us to pray for these people because he wants to them to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth we have in Christ Jesus. How much more will they be at peace with us if they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps we are where we are in society today because we don’t pray for them enough or for the right things. Something to ponder and correct if necessary.

Finally we have the foundation of our prayers to our heavenly Father. “One Who brings God and men together, the Man Christ Jesus, 6Who gave Himself as a ransom to free all people, and this was announced at the right times.” Christ, our God and our Brother, sits at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for the Church and for the world the very things he asks us to pray about. Our prayers are joined with his into the ear of the Father. Christ who is the ransom for all people is the reason we can pray for all people, kings and authorities. Jesus holds them up to the Father. We follow suit.

Finally, we are called, everyone, particularly the men, to lift up holy hands in prayer. Ok you don’t have to lift up your hands. But you are still called to pray. And when we pray, we do it without anger or argument. We start with asking for our own forgiveness from others. We then forgive all who have sinned against us. We pray God’s blessing be upon those who oppose us and we do it in love for our Savior Jesus Christ who has done the same for us. Anger and unforgiveness hinders our prayers, i.e. they keep us from praying as he wants us to pray. We are called to intercede and bless, not ignore or curse.

Heavenly Father, we pray you would guide all who are in authority over us with wisdom, justice and mercy. We give you thanks for hearing our prayer and answering it. Remove from us all malice and forgive those who sinned against us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion When Worldly Wealth Becomes God

#DailyDevotion When Worldly Wealth Becomes God

Amos 84Listen to this, you who want to devour the needy and put an end to the poor in the world. 5“When will the first of the month be over,” you ask, “so we can sell grain; and the Sabbath so we can offer grain for sale?” — using a bushel that is too small, a money weight that is too heavy, and crooked scales to cheat, 6buying poor people with money and the needy for a pair of shoes, and selling as grain what you sweep up on your floor. 7The LORD swears by the pride of Jacob: “I’ll never forget anything they’re doing.” 8 “Shouldn’t the country tremble for this and everyone living in it mourn? All of it will rise like the Nile and be tossed and sink down like Egypt’s river.

They say money makes the world go round. But when money becomes your god, the thing you turn to above anyone and anything else, the thing you turn to for every good, then everything the LORD God has placed in your life becomes a commodity and even the LORD himself is nothing more than another commodity.

Such were the Israelites in northern Israel to whom Amos preached. Saturday, the Sabbath was just a distraction. The stores were all closed. You couldn’t buy beer for the game. Worse, you couldn’t sell beer for the game. Their fellow man, even their fellow Israelites were looked upon as nothing more than a commodity to be devoured. The poor just became an end to the means of making more money.

Amos lists off their particular business practices the Lord was not happy with. In fact, in down right angered him. They used too small a bushel to sell the wheat and other grains, cheating those who  bought. They use too heavy of weights in their scales defrauding their customers. They sold as grain what was swept on the floor. They even bought and sold their fellow Israelites, the poor, for a pair of sandles instead of providing for them.

While the Israelite laws aren’t applicable to other countries, the standard of the Law behind them are. We use to have “Blue Laws” in our country which prevented commerce from taking place on Sunday mornings so people could go to church and worship. Now people are fire or not hired if they want to worship on Sunday mornings. You want to buy a 2×4? Forget that. Bacon used to be sold for a pound now it’s a 12oz package. Many other items are sold smaller but at the same price. Well I guess they can say the correct size is marked on the package.

The LORD said he would not forget what Israel had done by abandoning him and exchanging him for worldly wealth. Indeed, he eventually sent the Assyrians to wipe them off the face of the map as a warning to all humanity of what will happen to those who act and believe like them.

So what do you turn to for every good? Do you fear, love and trust in God above all things? Is your fear and trust only in Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Or are the Lord God and his Christ just ancillary to your life. They’re good to keep people in line and from stepping on your toes. Morality and religion are a good thing but if they get in the way of how you want to live your life, well, they come secondary.

When the Lord Jesus Christ becomes our God, then worldly goods must take a back seat to everything else. Worshipping and trusting him becomes our primary goal in life. The secondary goal is to love our neighbor and seek how we may help them because that is what Christ Jesus has done for us. He promises us our daily bread so worldly goods are to become just a means of showing him thanks and taking care of our neighbor, the person we see in need.

Heavenly Father, grant us such faith in Christ Jesus that we may truly hate worldly wealth so we may trust in him and love our neighbor as you would have us to do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Let Us Rejoice With The Heavens & The Angels

#DailyDevotion Let Us Rejoice With The Heavens & The Angels

Luke 153So He told them this story: 4“If anyone of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, don’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you find it? 5When you find it, you lay it on your shoulders and are glad. 6You go home and call your friends and neighbors together and say to them, ‘Be happy with me. I found my lost sheep! 7So, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to repent.” 8“Or suppose a woman has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the house and look for it carefully until she finds it? 9When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Be happy with me. I found the coin I lost.’ 10So, I tell you, God’s angels will be happy over one sinner who repents.”

So Jesus tells these two parables after the Pharisees and Scribes are upset with him because he is accepting tax collectors and sinners who are coming to him and eating with them. They apparently don’t understand what is going on or don’t want it to be going on.

In one parable there are a hundred sheep and one gets lost. Jesus asks them wouldn’t they go after the one lost sheep and leave the ninety-nine to look for it. Well I’m pretty sure the answer is no. It’s just one sheep. Leaving the ninety-nine behind would put them in danger. So this is a bit a stark shocker to hear Jesus say this. But maybe Jesus says this to shock them into a reality of what God does. God is concerned for the one lost sheep. He becomes man and dies that he might save one lost human being to prevent them from eternal damnation. All the while the Pharisees and the Scribes are just happy that they are ‘good’ children of Abraham. Jesus continues in that the shepherd rejoices when he finds it, lays it on his shoulders and brings it back to the rest of the sheep. The shepherd calls his friends and says , “Be happy with me. I found my lost sheep!” So too there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to repent. The Pharisees and the Scribes didn’t see themselves as needing to repent. It’s not that they didn’t sin and know they sinned. They most certainly went to the temple and offered the sacrifices for sins. But they did not recognize their need to repent of their idolatry they made of the tradition of the elders above the Law of Moses. When John called for them to repent and be baptized, they refused. They thought they were good enough.

Then there is a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Now the stakes are a little higher. Before it was one percent, now the stakes are ten percent. The woman like God diligently goes looking for the lost coin. When she finds it, she too calls her friends to rejoice with her. Again, we see the message, “God’s angels will be happy over one sinner who repents.”

Jesus’ point to his opponents is tax collectors and sinners are coming to him in repentance. He came into the world to seek the lost. He has been doing this through his preaching and teaching. He is calling the Pharisees and Bible Scholars to rejoice with him even as heaven and the angels are rejoicing with him. Jesus even invites them to be repentant and to eat with him. But that is more fully discussed in the parable that follows these two.

The thing is for us today is where do we see ourselves in these parables. Are we coming to Jesus and eating with him in repentance? Are we rejoicing with heaven and the angels over sinners who come to repentance and follow Jesus or we upset like the Pharisees because Jesus is accepting these people who repent? May we always live repentant lives, following Jesus and rejoicing with those who join us in following and eating with Jesus.

Heavenly Father, may we join Jesus in seeking the lost and rejoicing with the heavens over their being found as well as living lives of repentant joy as we also continually come to Jesus and eat with him at his table. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Sinners Will Receive

#DailyDevotion Jesus Sinners Will Receive

Luke 15All the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus to hear Him. 2But the Pharisees and the Bible scholars grumbled and said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus to hear him. So, what’s up with that? Well first, who exactly were these people and why were tax collectors separated out from other sinners? Who were these Pharisees and Bible Scholars aka Scribes? Well tax collectors worked for the Roman government. They were often native to the places where they collected taxes. In other words they were Romans or native to Rome. So they were seen to be working for the enemy. Secondly, they amassed wealth by charging more in taxes than Rome demanded. Rome was fine with that as long as they got their cut. Sinners, while certainly including drunkards and prostitutes, were basically everyone who didn’t go to synagogue on Saturdays. Not necessarily wretched people but people like your neighbor who isn’t a Christian.

Well these people were coming to Jesus to hear him. Jesus welcomed them and ate with them. To welcome them and eat with them is to say you are in communion with them. Really, only until recently you wouldn’t eat with people who you didn’t agree with or like. But Jesus here by welcoming them and eating with them is taking on their guilt and shame. Pharisees were a group of people who separated themselves from Jews who were not observant of the Mosaic Law and the interpretations of that law by the elders before them.  The Scribes or Bible Scholars were the interpreters of the Law and the tradition of the elders and how they were to apply it to their lives. Tax collectors and sinners obviously were not doing what the Pharisees and Scribes were doing. It is no wonder they marveled at Jesus welcoming these people and eating with them.

Now despite what modern liberalism of all stripes, secular or Christian, might try to make of this, Jesus didn’t tell them it’s ok for them to continue in their sins. Just look at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and his Sermon on the Plain, Jesus taught morality, a traditional, biblical morality. Jesus was calling to these people to repent. But what Jesus did was actually interact and accept these people as his disciples. The Pharisees and the Scribes may have allowed these people into the synagogue if they repented of their sins but they never would have accepted them as truly their brother and sister Israelites. They wouldn’t have allowed them to be their disciples.

When they heard Jesus’ teachings they repented of their sins and followed Jesus. Jesus accepted them as his disciples and continue to teach them. He accepted them as his brother and sister Israelites. Jesus did not say they could not follow him. He did not tell them their repentance wasn’t acceptable. But Jesus also didn’t say they could continue in their sins either. On the other hand, Jesus didn’t require them to follow the traditions of the elders either. The tradition of the elders sometimes added to the Torah aka the Law and sometimes it subtracted from it. Jesus taught they were to follow the Law as written and spiritually. Jesus gave the spiritual meaning of the Law in his sermons.

So, we as Christians should also be like Jesus. We need to make sure any Christian traditions we have which are helpful, but not necessary get in the way of people coming to Jesus. We shouldn’t make repentance any harder than Jesus does in his teaching. We should welcome people to hear Jesus’ teaching, repent of their sins and join us as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes we call them to repent of actual sins and to cease from them. But the guilt and shame of their past we let Jesus take upon himself. We rejoice they have left the darkness and joined us in the light. Perhaps you’re still on the outside thinking your sins separates you from God. The good news is, Jesus has removed that sin from you and has drawn you close to God in himself. So believe that, turn from your sins and come on in.

Merciful God and Father, you desire not that people die in their sins but repent of them and live in your love and light. Grant us faith to repent and live in Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Do I Really See Myself As Chief Of Sinners?

#DailyDevotion Do I Really See Myself As Chief Of Sinners?

1 Timothy 112I thank Christ Jesus, our Lord, whose power has been in me. He thought I could be trusted and appointed me to do His work 13although I used to slander, persecute, and shamefully mistreat Him. But He was merciful to me because, when I didn’t believe, I didn’t know what I was doing. 14Our Lord poured His grace on me, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a statement that can be trusted and deserves complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16 but God was merciful to me so that Jesus Christ would first show in me all His longsuffering and make me an example to those who are going to believe in Him and live forever. 17 To the everlasting King, the immortal, invisible, and only God, be honor and glory forever. Amen.

Paul thanks Christ Jesus, our Lord, who power is at work in him. That power is working in us who believe as well. It is renewing us daily, inwardly, even though outwardly we are wasting away. More often than not we don’t even perceive it because of our sinful flesh. Yet this power changed Paul who hated the Church and her Lord Jesus into someone who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and became a minster, a servant to the very Church he used to try to destroy. Paul used to slander, persecute and shamefully mistreat Christ, but not Christ while he was visible to us but rather Christ’s body, his disciples, with whom he is one.

Christ was merciful to Paul because when he was doing this he didn’t know what doing. Faith was not active him. As our Lord Jesus said from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Indeed, I don’t think any of us really know, I mean know intimately, down to our bones what we are doing when we sin because sin has so blinded us. We are blessed by Christ, like Paul, to have received his mercy and having been brought to faith and love in Christ Jesus to know his mercy and to have some idea of our offenses. Paul says that it is a statement that can be trusted and deserves full acceptance, Christ came into the world to save sinners and I am the worst of them. Most days, we as Christians accept that Christ came into the world to save sinners. We may believe that Paul indeed was the worst of them. But can we confess with Paul, “I am the worst of them.”? I know we often say that jokingly. But can you accept that personally? After all Paul didn’t know what he was doing when he was persecuting the Church. You have had the Holy Spirit, more often than not from infancy when you were baptized. You have known the Lord all this time, yet even with this knowledge, what have you done? How severe do you judge your own sins to be rebellion, treason and the like even though the world would not think much of them?

Maybe then again, you may have sinned and thought or maybe tormented by Satan that Jesus won’t forgive you this time. You have gone too far! Then we should look at St. Paul. He was a teacher of Israel and did not recognize his Messiah and King. He, as Saul, persecuted the Church and tried to wipe it out. Jesus was longsuffering to Paul to make him an example unto to us. If Jesus could have such mercy and kindness to one such as Paul, then he most certainly can and will be long suffering toward us who even sin after faith, we who would believe after St. Paul and live forever with him. No, there is nothing you can do that our Lord Jesus Christ that he will not hold out to you his hand and mercy and grace.

For this reason Paul can end this section with this doxology, i.e. the praise of his lips, “To the everlasting King, the immortal, invisible, and only God, be honor and glory forever. Amen.” That King and only God is our Lord Jesus Christ to whom all honor and glory be given for ever.

O Lord Jesus Christ, you have put forth St. Paul as an example of your longsuffering, mercy and kindness towards sinful humanity. May we always hold forth that example before our eyes that we may continuously come before you in humility with our sins and receive from you your mercy and grace that we may have a clean conscience and live out your love in our lives. In your glorious name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Good News Of The Glory Of God, The Blessed Lives Through Us

#DailyDevotion The Good News Of The Glory Of God, The Blessed Lives Through Us

1 Tim.15The goal of our instruction is love flowing from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith. 6Certain people have failed to find this and have turned to silly talk. 7They want to be teachers of the Law but don’t understand what they say or the things they so confidently express. 8But we know the Law is good if it is used as it was meant to be used, 9if we keep in mind that the Law is not meant for a righteous man but for those who break the Law and rebel against it, the ungodly and sinners, those who live unholy lives and insult holy things, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, 10men who sin sexually with women or with other men, kidnappers, those who lie or swear to lies — and anything else that is contrary to sound teaching. 11This is according to the good news of the glory of God, the Blessed, that was entrusted to me.

Paul had been instructing the leaders of the church. The goal of his instruction is love flowing from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. You see, that is the result of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we have been confronted with the law so that it crushes our hearts and we hear the free forgiveness that Christ won for us from God, how he had died and rose again because of the love of God toward us, then faith is created in us, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us and Christ begins to live through us. Christ indwelling brings about his love dominating our lives. Our baptism into Christ gives us a clear conscience before God for our sins have been buried with Christ Jesus. The works we do flow from a sincere faith, i.e. a faith that believes we are God’s children by grace, a free gift of God.

Yet, even in Paul’s day, even among those he had taught and those who were taught by them, there were people who had failed to find this heart, conscience and faith. Jesus, his teachings, his salvific work aren’t enough. They were busing themselves with myths, speculations about genealogies and not understanding the Torah. They were turning Christianity on its head. No doubt they were among the Judaizers of his day. Later some of these would probably be among the Ebionites. We have people like this among us to this day.

Now Paul reminds us the Law is good when used appropriately. The law is not meant for people walking according to a pure heart, a good conscience and an sincere faith. Such people live in the law of Christ and the Holy Spirit has written the Law on their hearts (Jer. 31:31) and they just do what they are supposed to do.  Paul says the Law is meant for law-breakers. It is meant for those who do not live according to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He then lists off a number of sins but that list is not exclusive.

Now it is true, because we still live in the sinful flesh, the flesh wants to gain an upper hand on the Spirit that has been given us. It only and always wants to sin and rebel against the will of God. When we let sin in us get the upper hand, either by not being watchful, keeping our hearts and minds focused on what Jesus has done for us or perhaps we simply weren’t thinking at all, then we too need to hear the Law to crush that old man. The Law will then instruct us into the perfect will of God and put to death the old Adam living in us.

Having been crushed by the Law we need to return to our baptism. Paul tells us our baptism into Christ gives us a clear conscience and our sins buried with Christ. The Law of God does its job and the Gospel, the good news of the Glory of God, the Blessed, does its job. The glory of God, the Blessed is Jesus Christ upon the cross. There God’s justice is met as sins are atoned for. There upon the cross God’s wrath for our sins is assuaged. There, as the collect of the Church says, the chief glory of God is shown in being merciful to us. Jesus is that Blessed, the Glory of God. He takes away our false religion and beliefs and replaces them with himself.

Heavenly Father, fulfill the New Covenant in us, that your Law may be written on our hearts and we may live a life with pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith, to the glory of your son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is Yahweh’s David

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is Yahweh’s David

Ezekiel 3417And as for you, My sheep, the Lord GOD says this: I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18Is it not enough for you to feed on the best pasture? Must you trample with your feet on the rest of the pasture? You drink clear water. Must you make what is left muddy with your feet? 19So My sheep have to eat what your feet have trampled on and drink what your feet have made muddy. 20So the Lord GOD says this: Look! I, even I, will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21You with your sides and shoulders push away all the weak animals and gore them with your horns until you have scattered them far and wide. 22Therefore I will rescue My flock so that they will no more be a prey, and I will judge between one sheep and another. 23“ ‘I will raise up one Shepherd over them, My Servant David, Who will feed them. He will feed them and be their Shepherd. 24I the LORD will be their God, and My Servant David will be the Ruler among them. I the LORD say so.

The priests, the prophets and the rulers of Judah are those who fed on the best pasture. They are the ones that trampled on the rest of the pasture making it unusable or poor for the rest of the people. They are the ones who drank clear water and then muddied them for everyone else. They are the ones who pushed aside the weak, the poor, the widow and orphan, and the foreigner at the gate even goring them spreading them far and wide with their false teaching, the support of false prophets, the persecution of those who upheld the Lord’s word.

Well the Lord God said he was going to judge between one sheep and another and rams and goats. This he did do once when he sent the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and put the people in exile. He did it again when he sent the Romans to destroy the temple and Jerusalem. God will not have his word mocked nor his faithful people persecuted forever.

The Lord God promises here that he would raise up a shepherd for the people. He would be a new David. This new David will feed the people the Lord’s word and, guide and shepherd them. The Lord would again be the people’s God and this new David would rule over them. This new David, this shepherd is of course Jesus. It was told of Jesus, Mat 2:6  “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” The prophet Micah there also added, Mic 5…”whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

Jesus says, Joh 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Again he says, Joh 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,” Jesus tells us, Joh 10:16 “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Now the same Lord that has spoken through Ezekiel is one with the new David, i.e., Jesus. Jesus is Lord, the very Lord God of Israel. The prophet said the Lord would be the shepherd of his people and he said he would appoint his David as shepherd. There are not two shepherds but one Shepherd, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Jesus the Good Shepherd, unlike the shepherds in Ezekiel’s day and unlike the rulers in his day, lays down his life for the sheep, the flock, the people of God. He has laid down his life for you that you might repent, believe on him and be baptized into his flock.  He gathers not only the children of Israel in the flesh, but those who would hear is voice from every people, tribe, nation and tongue, namely, you. He feeds you now with his word and his sacraments through the flock, the Church. He will feed you on verdant pastures forevermore when he returns with his kingdom.

Heavenly Father, always guide us with your Shepherd David, your son Jesus Christ through his word that we may feed upon the green pastures of that word and drink the pure water of the Spirit unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.