#DailyDevotion Does God Use Last In First Out Accounting?

#DailyDevotion Does God Use Last In First Out Accounting?

Eze 33:12-20  “And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins.  (13)  Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die.  (14)  Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right,  (15)  if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  (16)  None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.  

It appears the Lord Jesus uses a different accounting system than most people thinks he uses. We often think of God using a balance sheet or a pair of scales and measures our good deeds verses our sinful deeds. If we did more good than bad, well we get eternal life and if it’s the reverse, well sorry for you sucker. But that is not the system he uses at all.

For lack of a better analogy, it appears the Lord God uses Last In First Out inventory system. Well my grade in accounting wasn’t too good so don’t get too literal with that analogy. Never the less, He is telling us in this lesson that if we are trusting in our righteousness, i.e. all the good deeds we did to save us after we have transgressed God’s law, you can just forget it. Your current state is sinner and the Lord isn’t going to take those good deeds into account on the day of Judgment.

On the other hand, if you have been living in wickedness, transgressing God’s Holy Law persistently and someone points out the precarious state you are in and repent, the Lord isn’t going to remember all your wickedness. No, the Lord Jesus is just going to remember you trusted in him and trusting in his righteousness for your salvation.

Perhaps maybe the system would be called a zero sum system of accounting. The only thing that matters is when you die is are you trusting in your righteousness when you die or are you trusting in the mercy and righteousness of Jesus Christ when your spirit leaves your body.

Now you may like the Jews say, (17)  “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just.” But the Lord’s way is higher than our own and his thoughts are not ours. He tells us,   (18) “When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it.  (19)  And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this.  (20)  Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.” Which way are you on today, the Lord Jesus or yours? Jesus says, “I am the way.”

O merciful Father, your thoughts are not our thoughts and your ways not our own. Give us your Holy Spirit that we may always repent of our sins and wicked ways and then trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ living lives doing your will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Lord God Is Not What You Think He’s Like

#DailyDevotion The Lord God Is Not What You Think He’s Like

Eze 33:7-11  “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.  (8)  If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  (9)  But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.  (10)  “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’  (11)  Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

So apparently, the world does not know the difference between judging someone and getting warned. It acts like wicked Israel does when we heed the word of the Lord and warn them concerning their sins. Ezekiel and the prophets ran into this all the time. Indeed the Lord warns Ezekiel that if he did not speak up and warn the wicked to turn from their ways when prompted to do so, the Lord would require their blood at his hand.

So we, like Ezekiel are called to speak out against sin and warn fellow sinners that if they do not repent of their sins they will die, that is they are going to experience the second death, the Lake of Fire. Maybe they will repent, maybe they won’t but they will have been warned. If they die in their iniquity at least you will have saved your own soul. On the other hand maybe they will listen. Perhaps the word of warning from you will soften their heart and they will turn to the Lord with broken spirits and contrite hearts and believe the good news.

And what is that good news? The Lord Jesus declares, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” When our sins become too heavy for us, when we realize we are rotting away in our own iniquity, we need to hear and believe that God is for us. Some people think God loves sending people to hell and whopping them over the head. The think the Lord takes pleasure in punishing men for their sins. But the Lord Jesus tells us here in Ezekiel as he speaks to the Jews, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” He speaks through Peter in the New Testament and confirms this is true for us as well, 2Pe 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Satan wants you to believe a lie that God is against us and hates us. The Lord is against us sinning and bringing ruin upon ourselves. He wants us to repent, to turn from our sins and turn to Jesus for the forgiveness of those sins and receive from him eternal life. He is patient but don’t test his patience. At some point you die. Will you die in your sins or with his forgiveness?

Merciful God and Father, you desire that we all repent of our sins and turn to you to receive life in your son Jesus Christ. Grant us such faith in Christ that we may be repentant of our sins and turn to you for life eternal. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Are You Willing To Be Gathered?

#DailyDevotion Are You Willing To Be Gathered?

Luk 13:34-35  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  (35)  Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Jesus continues his lament over Jerusalem. The city that was to be a light on a hill to the nations leading them to the Lord instead turned aside from the Lord and worshipped things which are not God. They would not hear the Lord’s call to repentance through the prophets the Lord God had sent to them. Instead they mistreated and killed the prophets who pointed out their sins calling them to repentance and faith in the Lord.

The Lord had not only sent prophets, but he had sent disasters and foreign nations against Jerusalem, having warned them to repent but they would not. Even after the exile the Jews were a hard headed and stiff necked people. While his name were upon their lips their hearts were far from him. The Lord however continued to reach out to them. As Jesus says, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” The problem wasn’t on God’s end to receive them into his life. They were not willing.

Jesus, who is their Lord, would come to their forsaken house in due time. When he came, he would be coming to die at their hands. They would receive him with, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” but at the end of the week they would be crying, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Yet this is for their benefit and for ours. The Lord Jesus will use their hardened hearts to have them offer him up as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. By his death Jesus would become our Passover Lamb providing the blood that would cover us and cause death to pass over us. He would show his victory over sin and death by rising from the dead. Many in Jerusalem, Judea and Galilee would come to faith in Jesus and repent of their sins and be gathered to him.

Now Jesus has called us to repent of our sins. Through his prophets, apostles and pastors he calls us to turn from hatred, sexual immorality, drunkenness and drugs, jealousy, envy and spite, from back biting and all other actions that do not flow from his love and to turn to his love he has shown us on the cross. The love he has shown us on the cross demonstrates his forgiveness for these sins and indeed enacts that forgiveness. Will you be gathered to Jesus? Will you be willing to say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”? Or will you harden your heart like Jerusalem and be destroyed in the end?  Be gathered to Jesus and live.

Merciful and loving Father, you sent Jesus to call us to repentance and to provide the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Give us hearts that would be willing to be gathered to him and receive his forgiveness and love so we may live lives according to your will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Are You Worshipping The Real Lord?

#DailyDevotion Are You Worshipping The Real Lord?

Luk 13:31-33  At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”  (32)  And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.  (33)  Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’

Just before this Jesus had told the crowd that many Jews would not enter the kingdom of heaven but many people from all over the world, meaning Gentiles, and Abraham and the prophets would be sitting at the table in the kingdom of God. Jesus had already been having trouble with the Pharisees. They saw people leaving them and following Jesus instead. No doubt they probably thought Jesus was talking about them.

So was Herod wanting to kill Jesus? Probably not yet. He was frightened he might be John the Baptist raised from the dead whom he did have killed. They were probably trying to frighten Jesus away so he would quit taking their disciples from them. Jesus did a fair amount of his ministry in Herod’s territory which was Galilee. Never the less, Jesus answered  and told them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”

Jesus is no doubt referring to his crucifixion, burial and resurrection here. He’s not saying he’s only spending three days there and doing his ministry there and then he’s finished. He still has a while before he goes to Jerusalem to be crucified. Jesus is speaking to his ministry as a whole. Casting out demons, taking back territory in people for the kingdom of God, overcoming the effect of sin in the lives of the people was what Jesus did in his ministry. But his visible ministry would come to an end. He would continue this mission through his apostles. Through the preaching of his word and the administration of the sacraments he still casts out demon and prepares us to be made whole, without sin, in the world to come.

Jesus would continue his ministry until he accomplished our salvation in Jerusalem. There he would die like many of the prophets before him. The Israelites and the Jews would not heed the call to repentance in the Old Testament and now many of the Jews would not repent of their unbelief either. While having the appearance of worshipping the Lord when the Lord appeared to them and called them to repentance, they would have him killed through the hand of the Romans. After his resurrection many would casts aside their idolatry and repent. Now are your trusting Jesus for your salvation or some idolatrous recasting of Jesus in your own image and likeness?

Heavenly Father, ever give us your Holy Spirit that we might truly repent of all our idolatrous thoughts and ways and truly trust Jesus alone for our salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Christians Are Aliens

#DailyDevotion Christians Are Aliens

Php 3:20-4:1  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  (21)  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  (4:1)  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

It’s hard for Christians to realize this sometimes, particularly I think in the United States, that our primary citizenship is in heaven. We get very patriotic here in America and we also get very partisan. But we Christians are aliens in this world and in this country. Everything is not as desperate as our politicians want us to believe. Our King is in control. Everything and everyone is being subjected to him. This is not the world we are looking to have our best life in.

Now Paul is talking to people who have earned their citizenship as Romans there in Philippi. Like many immigrants to our own country who have gone through the hoops to become citizens, they were very proud of their citizenship. But they and we have a greater citizenship which we cannot earn. It is given to us by grace. It was won for us by Jesus Christ. We are born into it through the waters of baptism, which are so graciously given to us.

We are called to remember Eph 2:19 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,…” But we are strangers and aliens in this world. Heaven, i.e. the presence of God, the New Heavens and New Earth is our home. That should affect how we live here. Jesus tells us, Mat 6:19-21  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  (20)  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  (21)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He reminds us, Luk 14:13-14 “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  (14)  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

From this heaven we await our Lord Jesus Christ who is going to transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body by the power in which he subjects everything to himself and that include America, Democrats, Republicans and whatever else and whatever powers there may be. Jesus tells us, Mat 13:43 “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” David writes, Psa 17:15 “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” Paul tells us, 2Co 4:17-5:1 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…(5:1)  For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” With such promises we shall stand firm in the Lord.

Almighty God and Father, you have called us through Christ to be citizens of heaven in the world to come. Help us to live our lives as this is true and bring us at last to the glory you have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Follow Paul’s Example

#DailyDevotion Follow Paul’s Example

.Php 3:17-19  Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  (18)  For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  (19)  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Paul enjoins the Philippians to imitate him and those he walk according the example he gave them. One might wonder what was that example and how we might imitate Paul. In chapter two he gives a number of ways. Verses 1-2 he reminds them to be of the same mind. They are to believe and teach the same things. Then he tells them, (3) “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  (4)  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” He invokes the humility of Christ as the example of this as Jesus thought more of us than himself. He calls them to work out their salvation without grumbling and disputing. Paul continues to admonish them to live for the people around them and not selfishly. In chapter three he talks of how he presses on toward the goal of our salvation as it if depended upon our works but always remembering it is the gift of God in Christ Jesus.

On the other hand we warns against those who bear the name of Christian but are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Humility, self-sacrifice, denying oneself, hating the suffering that cross of Christ brings us marks their actions and their speech. They are of the health, wealth and prosperity preachers of the day. They are those who seek their own good first. They want others to honor them and to serve them. Their goal is their best life now and forget the upward call of God in Christ Jesus for the world to come. They only look to feed their bellies at your expense. The things that would bring shame to Christians they believe are the things they should get glory for. Their concerns is for worldly things and not the world to come. You are called to avoid such people.

Paul further tells us how to imitate him and those he believes who walk as the example he gave. He reminds them to rejoice always. We are called not to be anxious but by prayer, petitions and thanksgiving present our request to God. He calls us to think on excellent things and to be content with what we have and what we are going through. He calls us to rely upon our Lord Jesus Christ to provide us strength for the day that presents itself to us. Such is the example of Paul. Shall we be examples of this to our fellow Christians to follow?

Heavenly Father, grant us your grace always to follow Jesus’ and Paul’s examples in our own lives that we may be examples to others you call to the faith of Christ Jesus and to avoid the ways of those who are enemies of Christ’s cross. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion In Whose Name Are You Speaking Repentance?

#DailyDevotion In Whose Name Are You Speaking Repentance?

Jer 26:12-16  Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.  (13)  Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.  (14)  But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you.  (15)  Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”  (16)  Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.”

The priests and prophets of Judah wanted Jeremiah to be executed because of his words against them for they had been preaching and practicing falsely and leading Judah astray. But now Jeremiah has his turn to speak. He does not deny he spoke the words of warning but he lets them know it was the Lord who had sent him to speak. Now in the presence of the elders and princes he repeats what he had spoken earlier in the chapter. He calls them to repentance. He tells them to mend their ways, obey the voice of the Lord and the Lord would relent of the disaster that is coming. He reminds them these are not his words but the word of the Lord.

So there is a warning of coming judgment and there is a promise of forgiveness if they heed the warning and repent. Jeremiah doesn’t care what happens to himself. He must speak the word of the Lord that was given to him. Better to face the people, the priest, prophets, elders and princes than the Lord God.

When we call people to repentance, do we let them know this is not from us. It is not our judgment, opinion or thinking. It is the Lord’s word. We should make sure if we are calling someone to repentance it is indeed the Lord’s word and not our opinion. When we call someone to repentance, do we not only show a person their sins according to the word of the Lord but also we hold out to them the word of promise? The law alone will only break someone or harden the heart. The good news of Jesus Christ is what turns hearts towards God and brings amendment of life. We must tell people forgiveness has been won for them by Jesus Christ. Eternal life is theirs if they trust Jesus to be their advocate and savior.

Now the princes and elders decide what Jeremiah said isn’t worthy of death. They say he is speaking in the name of the Lord. These are not Jeremiah’s words but he speaks in the name of the Lord. Unfortunately, they also do not believe the Lord’s words. While not condemning Jeremiah, they also do not repent. Now people you call to repentance may or may not repent when you call them to repentance with the Lord’s words, but hopefully they too will recognize you came in the Lord’s name and not your own.

Merciful and Almighty God, grant us true repentance from our sins and when you use us to call others to repentance may be speak humbly and from love in your name that people may recognize it is your word and not our own we speak. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Don’t Judge Me!

#DailyDevotion Don’t Judge Me!

Jer 26:8-11  And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die!  (9)  Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.  (10)  When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the LORD and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the LORD.  (11)  Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.”

What words were these that upset the priests, the prophets and the people around the temple? Well these previous verses, Jer 26:4-6  “You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you,  (5)  and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened,  (6)  then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’” Well if you didn’t think you were doing anything wrong and you heard these things you might want to kill Jeremiah also.

The people of Judah were pretty strange at this time. On the one hand they were worshipping other gods besides YHWH, they were living not according to the law of Moses and acting despicably and on the other hand they were upset because Jeremiah said the Lord was going to tear down the temple and Jerusalem with it because of their sins. It’s like they idolized the temple, because they sure weren’t worshipping the Lord alone or fearing him.

You know if these same people lived today they would have responded to Jeremiah’s warning with, “Don’t judge me! Only God can judge me.” But God the Lord was judging them through the prophet’s mouth. You can be sure and certain when you point out someone’s sins today, in order to correct them and bring them to repentance, they are going to react in much the same way as the people in Jeremiah’s day. Do not fear them. If you are correcting them and calling them to repentance over a sin the Lord has revealed is sin because of your love for them and a desire to see them saved you are doing a good thing. Of course you are not Jeremiah. You better make sure you have pulled the log out of your own eye first before telling other people to be repentant. Never the less, when you speak the word of the Lord it is not you condemning them and judging them but it is the Word and their own hearts that judge and condemn them.

When we bring the word of the Lord to people which condemns we need to be ready to also hold out the word of the Lord the forgives, restores and renews namely the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and his resurrection from the dead. To those whom the word has wrought contrition, sadness, heartbrokenness and terror, the word that binds, sooths and relieves needs to be spoken.

Heavenly Father, grant that we may remove the log from our own eyes that we may with tender hearts call those whom we meet to contrition and repentance through your law and the good news of Jesus Christ, that we all might be saved and live with your forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.