#DailyDevotion Are You Taking Rest In The Shade Of The Kingdom?


#DailyDevotion Are You Taking Rest In The Shade Of The Kingdom?

Mark 4:30 And he said,  “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

 

The Lord demonstrated in history the meaning of this parable. The first time was when he formed the Israelite nation from one man, Abraham to make him a great nation. A tiny seed, planted in the garden of Canaan and it became a great garden plant. One man, then other, then a third, then twelve and over the course of time in Egypt probably something close to three million men, women and children left there to be settled in Canaan, with those of the nations who also trusted in the Lord.

 

Now Jesus is the mustard seed for he is the kingdom of God. He is planted also in the garden of Canaan literally on Good Friday. As he sprouts, his kingdom grows with the women, the disciples, five hundred witness, three thousand followers, then five thousand followers, the Roman empire in general and so on into the world today the kingdom of God has grown.

 

It is as the cedar tree from Ezekiel chapter seventeen which starts as a sprig but grows large enough to give shade to every type of bird under the sun. So too, the kingdom of God, has grown to give its shade to people of every language, tribe, people and nation.

 

And the Lord calls all of us like birds to take our shade under its branches and make our nests in its shade. We are invited to partake of the Lord’s Sabbath, his eternal Sabbath. It matters not our past, our sins and iniquities, what we have done and not done, who we are, what nation or race, what religion or spirituality you had before, Jesus invites you to join him in his kingdom, to rest in his Sabbath.

 

To rest in his Sabbath and be part of his kingdom is to trust he has won this kingdom for you. Jesus has earned this kingdom by his works and most especially by his innocent suffering, death and resurrection. We rest from our works when we trust in his works, in his victory over sin, death and the devil. Jesus has overcome them all and is growing his kingdom by this word being planted in the garden of our hearts. This kingdom of his started with the planting of one itty bitty seed outside the gates of Jerusalem, namely Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Heavenly Father, continue to grow the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ the spreading of the good news of his victory by his innocent suffering, death and resurrection and grant us faith in this victory of his that we may always be part of this kingdom and take our rest in the shade of his kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion That The Kingdom Grows Is Not Up To Us


#DailyDevotion That The Kingdom Grows Is Not Up To Us

Mark 4:26[Jesus] said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

 

Maybe we can explain the process better today, but I don’t know if we still don’t know how we get these seeds to grow into full plants. We can do things to help them germinate or germinate with better rates. But I still don’t know how. Maybe you do. Most certainly they didn’t in Jesus’ day. But Jesus isn’t really talking about seed. He is talking about the kingdom of God and how it grows.

 

The kingdom of God spreads as the word about what Jesus has done for us spreads. St. Paul says, Rom 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t come by the sword but by his word being spoken. Isaiah has spoken, Isa 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,  (11)  so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

 

We often fear the kingdom of God isn’t growing these days. Well what we are really fearing is our congregation isn’t growing or our Church body isn’t growing. But know this, God’s kingdom is growing even if it isn’t growing at our place. It is growing elsewhere. God’s word does not go out without accomplishing the purpose for which it is sent. Sometimes it is sent to convict people of their sins. Sometimes it is sent to create faith and save people from their sins. But it will accomplish what God intends.

 

So if we are fearing it isn’t growing among us perhaps we ought to pray more earnestly the second petition of the Lord’s Pray, Thy kingdom come. Our catechism teaches, “The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.” Our confession also teaches us, “That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear…” Ultimately it is up to God when and where his kingdom will grow and where it will decline. It is not up to human machinations. Yet, God uses us to make sure the ministry takes place. Whether we witness our faith to someone else or use our resources to make sure the ministry is taking place where we are, God does use us as instruments, means if you will, to get the word of Christ out in our place. Yet the growth is still up to God. We wonder why is it grown there and not here. We rarely wonder why it’s growing here and not there. Then we just enjoy it. Never the less, the kingdom of God is growing. Eventually it will produce the head and then there will be the harvest. Christ will return. His holy angels shall reap up the tares and burn them in fire and then he will gather his people into kingdom made visible.

 

Heavenly Father, continually give us your word and grow your kingdom among us in throughout the world and preserve us always in that kingdom that we would be part of that harvest. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Worshipping The Image Of God Is Loving Your Neighbor


#DailyDevotion Worshipping The Image Of God Is Loving Your Neighbor

2 Cor. 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

 

Now earlier Paul spoke as to the fear of the Lord and doing what pleased God because we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  Now it is the love of Christ that compels and controls us. I hate the word to motivate, it doesn’t seem sufficient, controls and compels makes us seem like robots. The Greek word is synecho (syn-with, echo-to hold fast) which translators take as a figurative sense of the word, to impel seems to be a better translation. The ‘syn’ part of the word would imply our cooperation with the love of Christ and indeed, having been freed from sin we are able to cooperate with Christ in our lives.

 

Now why does the love of Christ do this? Because we have concluded one has died for all, therefore all have died. When Christ Jesus died on the cross, not only did he die for all people, which he did, everyone died with him. Just as the first Adam caused all people to be born spiritually dead and sinful, the second Adam, Jesus, died for all people and all people have died in him. Every single person is intimately joined with Jesus in his death. There is no person for whom Jesus did not die for and there is not a single person whose death isn’t in Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

Now that he has died for all, those who live, that is those who have eternal life in themselves, i.e. the life of Jesus through faith, might now live their lives no longer selfishly for themselves but for Jesus. We seek to please Jesus with our lives. How do we do that? We daily repent of our sins and look to Jesus for our salvation AND we love one another. Jesus loved us. He sacrificed himself on behalf of the others i.e. us. Now he desires with the same love he loved us with we love one another. We do this by seeking the good of others above ourselves. We look to the interest of others instead of our selfish interest. Our life theme should be how can I serve you today. But it is only the love of Christ that can make this happen in our hearts, minds, souls and lives.

 

Because Jesus died and was raised for your neighbors’ sake, because your neighbor is intimately joined with Christ Jesus on the cross and the Lord intends to make them alive with him and give him eternal life, because your neighbor was made in the image and likeness to God and the Lord Jesus intend to conform that person to his own image, the service of love to the neighbor, the worship of the neighbor is service and love to the one whose image and likeness they were made in and in whose image they were destined to be conformed to, Jesus.

 

Merciful God and Father, as you have joined all humanity to the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ and have made his death our death and his life our life, grant us faith and love that we may serve and love our neighbor as a proper service and worship of your image. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Be Of Good Courage. The Lord Will Reward The Works Of Your Faith.


#DailyDevotion Be Of Good Courage. The Lord Will Reward The Works Of Your Faith.

2 Cor. 5:6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

As Christians we can be of good courage no matter what. Why? Because we know nothing can take us away from Jesus Christ and the reward he has planned for us. Yes, we may lose everything in this life. Yes, we may be tortured continuously because of our faith in Jesus. But none of these things can take away our inheritance being kept safe for us in Christ Jesus.

 

We are in this life away from the Lord that is we cannot see him. But he promises he dwells in our hearts and has made then his throne. He promises where two or three gather in his name he is with us. But we walk by faith and not by sight. Everything we see and feel may make us think God hates us and is against us.  But nothing can be further from the truth. Paul said in chapter one we participate in the sufferings of Christ and so we do.

 

So we can be of good courage. God is for us and not against us. Certainly as we undergo suffering we’d rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord, more so probably as we suffer than when things are going well. We know one day we shall see the Lord Jesus in our own new bodies Paul has been talking about.

 

Because Jesus has these things planned for us and has given us such great and wonderful promises we make it our aim to please him. While as Christians who do not face the judgment of whether or not we suffer for all eternity, never the less we will give an accounting of the gifts he has given us while we walked in faith. Some of us do much with the gifts of grace the Lord has given us. Some us do very little. Some live lives of thankfulness and joy, others just want to get in by the skin of their teeth. Yet each believer will receive in his body what is due for what he did in this life whether good or bad. St. Paul says in 1 Cor. 3 that some build upon the rock (Jesus) with gold, silver and precious stones and some hay, straw and stubble, but each man’s work will be tested by fire and some will enter the kingdom of God like a man running from a burning building with just their clothes.

 

This should encourage us on to good works, to love our neighbors, to do good to those around us, to put others first and to be more selfless, to forgive others and to have mercy on those needing mercy. While it may seems such acts are worthless to us or to those around us because we don’t see the fruits of them in this life our Lord Jesus Christ will reward them in the world to come.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us good courage to walk by faith and not by sight, to live our lives to please you and to do the good you would have us to so we may be rewarded bountifully in front of the judgment seat of Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion We Hope For Bodies Like Christ’s, Not To Become Angels.


#DailyDevotion We Hope For Bodies Like Christ’s, Not To Become Angels.

2 Cor. 5:1 We know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

 

Now just what is this tent but our earthly bodies. Now the tent we live in God also knit for us in the womb. But the Lord was using sinful flesh to knit us together i.e. from our parents going all the way back to Adam and Eve who sinned. The building from God is our new resurrected body not made with human hands, not made from sinful flesh. But as Paul says in 1 Cor. 15 it is a spiritual body (not meaning not material), immortal, imperishable, glorious like Jesus Christ’s resurrected body. This body we shall receive from on high lives forever with Christ, in the New Heavens and New Earth.

 

With this hope, we do groan wanting our heavenly body, particularly as we age and the wages of sin and age wear upon the body we were given in our mother’s womb. All sorts of troubles and illnesses beset us and those we love in these bodies. It is a burden to have this body. But through these sufferings which have been sanctified by Christ Jesus’ suffering on the cross we know we are growing inwardly day by day.

 

We do not want to be unclothed but further clothes. St. Paul describes it as mortality being swallowed up by life here. For the life of Christ dwells in us and that life is growing in us. It is growing up to the maturity the Lord intends us to grow into to bear his weight of eternal glory. So even those who are still living when Christ returns, there earthly body is transformed into Christ’s glorious body and those sleeping in the earth receive their new homes from God, their resurrected bodies.

 

So God has prepared us for this very thing. So we may believe this and have eternal life, the Lord has given us the Holy Spirit in baptism. He is our life now and our life in the world to come. He renews us daily, convicting us of our sin, restraining the sin in our earthly body, making us bear his fruit. He is the guarantee of the spiritual but very physical body we’ll receive on the Last Day. For our destiny is not to become angels but rather to be like our Lord Jesus Christ whose body was assumed into heaven, assumed into God. We will see our Lord Jesus Christ and be like him.

 

Almighty God and Father, give us strength as we groan in these bodies of death to be patient while you prepare new glorious bodies for us above to be clothed with and while we wait to be clothed continually give us your Holy Spirit that we may live by faith patiently until you send your Son Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Spoken It. He Will Do It


#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Spoken It. He Will Do It

Eze. 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”

 

If you take anything out of reading the Bible it is this, the Lord does what he says he is going to.  The Lord speaks and he will do it. So throughout the bible the Lord makes promises and he performs what he says he will do. He said he was sending a flood and there was a flood. He told Abraham his descendents would go down to Egypt for 400 years and then he would take them up and settle them in the land he promised and he did it.

 

He told the Israelites to obey him and if they did everything would be great but if they didn’t he would make them serve the people whose gods they were worshipping and he did that. The Lord said he was going to exile the Northern tribes by the hand of the Assyrians and he did. Then the Lord said he was going to exile Judah to Babylon and bring them back 70 years later and he did just that.

 

The Lord promised a Messiah, born of the seed of a woman. He would be of the seed of David. He would heal the sick, give sight to the blind, give the gospel to the poor, he would suffer, die, be buried and rise from the dead on the third day and ascend into heaven. Jesus was the fulfillment of those promises. He said Jesus’ death would be the propitiation for our sins. His blood would cover and wash away our iniquity and guilt. Lo and behold it did.

 

The Lord said he was coming back one day to judge the living and the dead and he was going to raise all the dead on that day. He promised eternal life, grace, mercy and forgiveness to all who trusted in him and eternal perdition to all those who rejected him.

 

So what are you going to do? The Lord has fulfill, he has done everything in the past he has promised in the Bible. There are a few things left to fulfill mainly covering the last day, Judgment Day and the World to come. Are you going ignore all that he has promised and fulfilled and think he will not do all that he has promised? If he has done all said he was going to do in the past, he will complete all that he said he was going to do. Jesus is coming back. He is going to raise the dead and transform those still living on that day. He will give eternal life to all who trusted him and his promises. He will cast into perdition those who rejected him. Trust Jesus.

 

Gracious God and Father, you have said so many things in Scripture and have   done them. Grant us faith to trust Jesus and the word you have spoken that we may receive the good things you have spoken and not the punishment you have pronounced on all those who reject your word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is A Cedar Even You Little Bird Can Nest In


#DailyDevotion Jesus Is A Cedar Even You Little Bird Can Nest In

Eze. 17:22 Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest.

 

Now before this, the Lord was speaking how he made a covenant with a prince of Jerusalem who spurned the Lord and turn to Egypt for help. He is a cedar that will be cut down and indeed he was and all Jerusalem with him.

 

But not the Lord proposes something new. He is going to take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar, a tender one and plant it on the high and lofty mountain height in Israel. This tender sprig of cedar is Jesus. There on the heights of Jerusalem, on Golgatha, the Lord God planted Jesus on the cross on the heights. He was buried there in the hills a young man merely 33 or so years old. But the grave could not keep him. Jesus took root there and his kingdom began to grow.

 

His kingdom is such that one third of the earth’s population calls themselves by his name, Christian. Indeed, Jesus’ kingdom was not just for Jews. It isn’t limited to Israelites, children of Jacob. No from every language, tribe, nation and people has the Lord Jesus Christ made his people. His church is every growing to so every sort of bird will nest in her branches, that is to say people from every people, nation, tribe and tongue.

 

Paul being an apostle to the Gentiles was never a plan B. It was always part of God’s plan of salvation. Peter going to Cornelius’ house and his household receiving the Holy Spirit was always God’s plan to redeem the nations.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ continues to grow his kingdom through the proclamation of his word. The proclamation of the free forgiveness of sins for his name’s sake continues to bring people of every type into his kingdom. He continues to send forth heralds into the world with the message the Father has been reconciled to mankind. Jesus’ blood has made atonement for their sins and trespasses. All is forgiven. Confess your sins. Trust in Christ’s work for you and be received into his kingdom. Yes, even you little bird, there is a branch for you to nest in.

 

Gracious God and Father, you planted your Son Jesus Christ on the mountains of Moriah on the cross outside of Jerusalem. Now his kingdom has spread throughout the earth through the proclamation of his name. Ever give us the name and word of your Son Jesus that we too may be included amongst the birds taking shade in his Church. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

#DailyDevotion Water Is Thicker Than Blood In God’s Kingdom


#DailyDevotion Water Is Thicker Than Blood In God’s Kingdom

Mark 3:31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

 

Earlier in the chapter his family thought Jesus was out of his mind and now they are there to pick Jesus up. Jesus has other plans. Already Jesus is teaching us that the kingdom of God has a different relationship system. Jesus does give nods to this present age in his teaching but his overall teaching is that of the kingdom of God and already it is making inroads into the kingdom of this world.

 

Here Jesus teaches us that those who do the will of God is his brother, sister and mother. That is our relationship to Jesus. What is this will of God Jesus is talking about? John says, Joh 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” And John says, 1Jn 3:23 “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” God’s will is that we believe in his son Jesus Christ and that we love one another. When we do this we are Jesus’ brother, sister and mother. The kingdom of God has a different relationship structure. In God’s kingdom water is thicker than blood. For the water is baptism, through baptism we are incorporated into God’s family and can call God Father. Mat 10:32 “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,…” Jesus acknowledges us before the Father as his brothers, sisters and mother when we trust in him.

 

Jesus taught that in the coming age there would be no marriage or giving into marriage. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ to one another. But that relationship is true even now. Mar 10:29-30 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, (30) who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” You may lose your family when you turn to Christ and follow him. For them blood is thicker than water. However, when you are baptized into Christ and follow him, he has promised houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land with persecutions in this life. In Christ you have a new family even now. You don’t have to forsake your current family but Christ Jesus and your faith in him must come first. But if they accept you and your faith continue on. If they cast you out, you have your Christian family you can turn to. They will be your family for eternity with the Father and the Son. They will be your family now and your family in the world to come. Jesus has promised it. All of his promises and God’s promises are yes in Christ. He will perform it.

 

Heavenly Father, you have incorporated us into your family through baptism and faith in your Son Jesus Christ. Strengthen our faith that we may always make this relationship to you and our fellow Christ our priority in this life that we may more fully enjoy it in the age to come. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is Plundering This World, The House Of Satan


#DailyDevotion Jesus Is Plundering This World, The House Of Satan

Mark 3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

 

Well one thing is for certain, even those who opposed Jesus recognized he was casting out demons. They recognized people were demon possessed. They had their own rites for casting demons out. Jesus didn’t seem to need to do the rites. He casts them out of people by his own authority.

 

But the scribes, being jealous of Jesus, thought in their hearts, discussed among themselves and told other people, Jesus was able to cast out demons because he himself was possessed by the prince of demons. This is why Jesus warned them and us against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The scribes were attributing the work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus to the work of Satan. Now Jesus could by his own authority and power casts out demons but at his baptism he was filled with the Holy Spirit. I think because we would be charged by Jesus to do the same work he did and greater works through the power of the Holy Spirit, he did these things as Man, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet because of the unity of the Trinity, practically everything one person of the Trinity does, the other two are intimately involved so oftentimes it is difficult to distinguish between the persons and their actions. Yet, only Jesus as the Son of Man dies for us, but even then the other two persons are involved in that act. But I digress.

 

Jesus tells them if Satan cast out Satan then his kingdom, his house cannot stand. So either way this is good news. If Jesus casts out Satan, then Satan’s kingdom cannot stand. If Jesus casts out Satan by the power of the Holy Spirit, Satan’s kingdom cannot stand.

 

But we know Jesus casts out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the stronger man who binds the strong man, Satan, and plunders his house. This world has the prince of the air as its god. Jesus has bound him up so he cannot deceive the nations any longer until the end. The good news of his victory over sin, death and the devil frees people from Satan’s bondage. He has given us baptism so we too may be filled with the Holy Spirit. He gives us his body and blood to strengthen us against the devil’s strength. He’s given us absolution in the mouth of the pastor to weaken the Accuser’s attacks and indeed totally nullifying them. You who believe in Jesus for your salvation are proof of Jesus’ binding the strongman and plundering his house. Jesus has made you his own possession. Wouldn’t you like to be Jesus’ possession instead of Satan’s?

 

Heavenly Father, you gave Jesus he fullness of the Spirit at his baptism and so he bound up Satan and his power that we may be free from the powers of darkness and be filled with the same Holy Spirit. Continually give us your word that the power of the Holy Spirit may always reign in our hearts that we may live by the life of Christ and not turn again to darkness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.