Daily Reading: September 20th


#DailyDevotion The Lord Uses Instruments To Fulfill His Will In Us.

September 20th

Read Neh 4:7–23

Neh 4:15-20  When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work…Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.  (18)  And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me.  (19)  And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another.  (20)  In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

 

A man in terrible straights prayed to the Lord day and night asking God to let him win the lottery.  After months of praying this prayer, he heard a voice after his prayer.  It said, “Could you at least work with me and buy a ticket?”

 

The Jews had a promise they would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls.  The word had gone out and it was up to them to actually get up and leave Babylon to go back to Jerusalem.  The Lord protected them on their way back.  When they got to Jerusalem they saw the state the Babylonians had left it after their siege 70 earlier.  The Lord wasn’t going to just zapp the walls into being.  He was going to use the Jews to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the temple.

 

With the Arabs and the Ammonites threatening the Jews, the Jewish builders were mighty afraid to continue the work.  Nehemiah promised them, “Our God will fight for us.”  It is true that at some times, the Lord worked immediately by sending His angels to destroy them.  But throughout the history of Israel, the Lord strengthened the Israelites in battle, put their enemies into confusion by affecting their hearts and oftentimes had His angels participating in the battles.  Our Lord is a God of means.  He uses the things created to accomplish His goals.  So the Jews worked while armed and had others standing guard.

 

As we go about our lives, the Lord has made numerous promises that apply to us.  He promises to provide our daily bread.  He never-the-less expects us to go about being productive with our hands. If you need a job, He expects you to hit the pavement, put in some applications and go to some interviews.  When we do get a job, He expects us to do our best in doing it to His glory.  So while the Lord Jesus can zapp stuff into being, He uses means to accomplish His will.

 

So too our salvation.  Our Lord Jesus by His work on the cross won salvation for all mankind.  He uses fallen, born again men to bring this message of salvation to all people.  He uses men to preach and give this salvation to all people.  He uses water and His Word to wash away our sins.  He uses men to pronounce forgiveness.  Jesus uses bread and wine to give us His body and blood so we can participate in His covenant.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, help us to recognize the means you use to bring us salvation that we may live our lives in faith.  Amen.

Daily Reading: September 19th


#DailyDevotion It Is Always God’s Word And Promise That Encourages And Strengthens Us

September 19th

Read Neh 2:11–20; 4:1–6

Neh 2:17-20  Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”  (18)  And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.  (19)  But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”  (20)  Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

 

So I’m looking at this reading for today and I’m thinking to myself, “Self, what can I say about this?  Where is Jesus? What is the Good News?”  So I stop and pray some more.

 

So here’s what I get now.  The God which speaks to the prophets is always Jesus.  He is the Word of God (John 1).  It is He who speaks to the prophets and guides His people Israel at the behest of the Father.  Jesus had spoken to Nehemiah.  He had given him a promise that the time of exile was over and it was time to get busy rebuilding Jerusalem.  Jesus had moved the heart of the king to make this possible.  And it is with the promise and word of the Lord that Nehemiah encourages and strengthens the people.  Even when the enemies of Judah jeer and mock the Jews rebuilding, the Lord Jesus’ word encourages and strengthens them.

 

We too as the Church, the Israel of God, sometimes get discouraged here in our exile in this fallen world.  But we have a promise and command from the Lord Jesus to build up His temple, His body, the Church.  He promises us He is always with us.  Jesus promises the gates of Hades will never overcome the Church.  We have the assurance that Jesus, at the right hand of the Father, is running the show on behalf of His Church.

 

It is God who wills and works in us.  It is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us.  God’s Word will accomplish the purpose for which it is sent out.  The good news of the full, free gift of the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, a new heavens and a new earth, a resurrected body all for the sake of Jesus Christ and His life, work, innocent suffering and death, the spilling of His blood and His resurrection being our guarantee of it, has gone out into all the world.  We are called to be faithful in getting that message out, whether it be supporting our local congregation as the mission post in our area or supporting those whom the Lord Jesus sends out from us into the rest of the world.  We will be encouraged by Jesus’ Word and Promises even when our enemies jeer and taunt us.  We will be encourage by our Lord when it looks like nothing is getting done or worse things seem to be going backwards, for this is His Church and He is in care of it.  We are simply called to be faithful to our callings in our life.  The results are up to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, let us be encouraged and never give up hope with your promises on our lips and in our minds even as Nehemiah and the people he ministered were also encouraged by your Word and Promise.  Amen.

Daily Reading: September 18th


#DailyDevotion To Appeal To God’s Character You Need To Know His Character

September 18th

Read Neh 1:1—2:10

Neh 1:4-11  As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.  (5)  And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,  (6)  let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.  (7)  We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.  (8)  Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples,  (9)  but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’  (10)  They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.  (11)  O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” ….

 

Nehemiah, whose name means, Consolation of Jah (Jah is Jahweh’s nickname), faced with the situation of his people which was caused by the sins of his people and not only their sins but his sins and the sins of his fathers, repents.  The words bring contrition and humility to his heart and from his heart to his mouth and actions.  He fast (doesn’t eat food) and prays.  Here we have the prayer that he brought before the Lord of Hosts.

 

We note first that he reminds the Lord of His character and His promises.  In his prayer, Nehemiah reminds the Lord who He says He is and what He does.  If anything else this is a good reason to read your bible.  In it you find out who God, the living God, is and what He is like and what He has to say to the people of the world and in particular, what He has to say to you.  Nehemiah’s prayer is spiritual because it is the Word of God and the Word always is accompanied by the Spirit of the Lord.

 

He confesses his sins, his father’s sins and the sins of his people.  When disaster strikes our country, we should do the same.  We don’t look at those who disaster strikes and think they must be worse sinners than us.  We confess our sins, the sins of the people around us and our nations sins and we beg the Lord’s forgiveness on our and their behalf.  We plead humbly for His grace, His mercy and His kindness.  We plead for these things based not on what we have done or not done, but based on what the Lord Jesus is like, what He has done, and what Jesus has promised.

 

The Lord heard Nehemiah’s plea.   Jesus arraigned for Nehemiah to be heard by the king and things were set in motion for the prophecy of Jeremiah to be fulfilled.  The exiles would return to Jerusalem, the city and temple would be rebuilt and the Lord would put His name their again.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ will hear your humble pleas based one who He is, what He has done and what He has promised.  You can depend on that.  He has always kept His Word.  He is always faithful even when we have been faithless.  So turn to the Father with the Word of Christ with humility and faith.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and our nation.  We have sinned against you and deserve nothing but punishment and disaster upon disaster.  For your Name sake forgive. Amen.

Daily Reading: September 17th


#DailyDevotion Better Raise Your Children In The Knowledge Of The Lord Jesus

September 17th

Read 2 Chr 36:1–23

2Ch 36:13-17  He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD, the God of Israel.  (14)  All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the LORD that he had made holy in Jerusalem.  (15)  The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.  (16)  But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.  (17)  Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand.

 

In quick succession after Josiah’s death, from 609-586 B.C. the kings of Judah are set up, deposed and disposed.  They do not follow the example of Josiah who worshipped the Lord.  The pervert the temple of the Lord and desecrate it with foreign idols.  It is really sad.

 

What is even more sad is the names of the Kings and how they completely did not fulfill them.  Israelites, being children of God, had the Lord as part of their name, even as our children receive their fathers last name.  Jehoahaz, the Lord seized, no, not the Lord but Neco, king of Egypt seized him and brought him to Egypt.  Eliakim, God of raising, changed to Jehoiakim, the Lord will raised, is raised to the throne by Neco, king of Egypt.  Jehoiachin, the Lord with established, is struck down by king Nebuchanezzer.  Finally Zedekiah, righteousness of the Lord, is wicked before the true King of Israel, the Lord, and is found having no righteousness of his own, nor does he possess the righteousness of the Lord by faith.

 

What curse falls upon us parents if we do not raise up our children in the knowledge of Christ and let them find their own way and make their own decisions.  What way will they choose but their own if they are not instructed in the way of Jesus.  True, we can force no one to believe indeed only the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, particularly the Gospel Word of God, the free forgiveness of sins on account of Jesus can make someone believe.  But it is incumbent upon us parents to train up our children in the Christian faith at home and at Church.  In private devotions, in Sunday sermons in Church services and in Sunday School or Church schools we are to educate them in the Word of the Lord.  Without that, they will simply turn to the way of the devil like the kings of Israel and Judah and the people who were led by them.

 

But we have been given this good land where we are free to teach our children the Christian faith:  How we are sinners deserving death and hell.  How the Father in heaven loves us and sent his son Jesus to suffer the punishment of death and hell for us on the cross.  How He freely gives us this forgiveness, life, and righteousness purely out of his grace and love for Jesus’ sake.  How we can always be absolutely certain that we are saved when we look to the work of Jesus and know that his work is absolutely complete and ours.  Well you won’t get that in the National Enquirer, the TV networks,  or any sitcom, drama, or hallmark movie.  You get that in His Church.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you have placed us into the Father’s family and name through holy baptism.  Grant us your Holy Spirit always that we may live up to an in that name unto eternal life. Amen.

Daily Readings: September 16


#DailyDevotion Pride Comes Before The Fall

September 16th

Read 2 Chr 35:1–7, 16–25

2Ch 35:1  Josiah kept a Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month…2Ch 35:18-23  (18)  No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  (19)  In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah this Passover was kept.  (20)  After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to meet him.  (21)  But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.”  (22)  Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo.  (23)  And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.”

 

Here is the last good king of Judah.   His name means Yahweh is my foundation or in modern Christian terms, Jesus is my rock and foundation.  He lived up to his name as well as any other faithful Israelite.  Like Hezekiah a few kings before him, Josiah cleans house and keeps the Passover of the Lord.  He fixes the Lord’s house and restores the proper worship of Yahweh (Lord).  It was a good time for Judah as they had a faithful king.

 

It is unfortunate thought that Josiah must have had a fighting streak in him.  We all have our faults and failings.  Certainly he was right to go out against Neco originally.  Neco was going through his land and he did not announce himself or ask permission.  When Neco told him he was on the Lord’s mission, Josiah should have consulted the high priest or the prophets to see if this were so.  Perhaps he did but he didn’t care.  I say this because he disguised himself to go make war with the Egyptians.  Why would you do that if some amount of subterfuge were not at play?  He either just wanted to fight or perhaps he felt he needed to prove himself a warrior.  Either way his pride was his death.

 

We should like Josiah and Hezekiah keep our worship of the Lord Jesus Christ pure.  We should gather to hear His Word and receive his gifts in baptism, absolution, the Lord’s Supper, the proclamation of the Gospel and bible study along with edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We should take care to follow the commands and institutions of Christ and worship in a way that is pleasing to Him.

 

Besides that we should take care that we do not let pride overrun our faith in Christ.  True worship of Christ is the humble reception of all that He wants to give us along with thanks and praise for those things with service to our fellows.  We do not want to end up like Josiah.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, ever give us humble spirits and contrite hearts to receive your gifts and your Word with faith and give us Your Holy Spirit that we may live out this faith in our lives in thanksgiving to you and service to our neighbor. Amen.

Daily Reading: September 15th


#DailyDevotion Humble Repentance Is Met With Grace In Christ Jesus

September 15

2 Chr 34:1–4, 8–11, 14–33

2Ch 34:26-28  But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard,  (27)  because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD.  (28)  Behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place and its inhabitants.'” And they brought back word to the king.

 

King Josiah was brought up with the name of the Lord and worshipped him. When he became king he sent out his servants to clean the land and then the temple of the foreign gods which the people had been worshipping. His cleansing of the land might seem pretty radical in today’s polite society. It wasn’t enough to break up the idols but he pulverized them to powder and even burnt their priest bones to turn them to dust.

 

In the midst of his cleansing the temple they found the book of Moses, the book of the Law.  So it must have been that he knew of the Lord by word of mouth of those who still worshipped the Lord despite the mass numbers of people who did not worship solely or abandoned him altogether. When Josiah heard the book of the Law read to him he fell down in repentance for himself and for his people. He tore his clothes and humbled himself before the Lord vowing to do everything in the book of the Law.

 

It was his humility and repentance that move the Lord to have mercy on Josiah during his reign.  He would live and die in peace and be gathered to his fathers, i.e. those who had been faithful to the Lord. Yet the Lord knew Judah and her kings would turn away from him as soon as Josiah was dead and therefore was going to bring the curses their ancestors spoke before they entered the Promised Land.

 

This is a lesson unto us that when we hear the word of the Lord and are convicted of our sins we should not rebel against the Lord and tell him and his messengers to not judge us (for it is the Lord who judges us by his word) but rather like Josiah fall down in humble repentance. Indeed every day we should humble ourselves before the Lord, confess our sins, our failing to keep his word and beg for his forgiveness. The good news is the Lord Jesus Christ, himself, has come and made atonement for our sins. Jesus has won for us the forgiveness we seek and need. He has sent his messengers out with this word of forgiveness with his authority to pronounce absolution upon us even as he did king Josiah.

 

As king Josiah produced fruits in keeping with repentance you and I also will spurn our wicked acts and turn from them. If we have caused damage we will repair the damage our sins have caused to the best of our ability. For those who have experienced the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be joyful and free if our repentance is not sincere. We may fall again, but we return again and be repentant never excusing but confessing our iniquity and turning from it again.

 

Heavenly Father, ever make your word present among us that we may know your will, humbly repent of our sins and receive absolution from the servants of your Son Jesus Christ who purchased and won our forgiveness by the spilling of his innocent blood and death. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: September 14th


#DailyDevotion You Are Never So Far Gone That The Mercies Of God In Christ Can’t Reach You

Sept. 14th

Read 2 Chron. 33:1-25

2Ch 33:11-13  Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon.  (12)  And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.  (13)  He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.

 

Perhaps it was because he was so young when he took over as king of Judah that Manasseh was able to be so moved to turn from the Lord his God and worship other gods.  Despite Hezekiah’s reforms there were still those who worshipped the false gods remained hidden in the court during his reign and only showed themselves once he was dead. We cannot be certain.

 

What we do know is that Manasseh did more evil in the sight of the Lord than any of the inhabitants of the land who were there before the Lord drove them out by the hands of his holy people. He built foreign altars in the temple, its courtyards and rebuilt the high places. He even sacrificed his own sons to these false gods that he set up to worship. He also did not repent when the Lord sent his word to Manasseh. He so angered the Lord that he sent the Assyrians to bind him and take him to Babylon with hooks and bounds of bronze chain and caused him great distress.

 

In the midst of his distress he cried unto the Lord, the God of Israel and repented of his sins. It must have been a pretty good, sincere prayer of contrition because it moved the Lord to restore him back to his place of kingship in Jerusalem. It was only then that Manasseh knew the Lord was God. Having been restored to his former place he showed signs of repentance and fruits of faith by cleansing the temple and the city of the false gods and false worship.

 

We see a couple of things here. One is that what Jesus said is true that when a demon leaves someone and comes back and finds the place empty he brings seven demons worse than himself to make their abode there. At Hezekiah’s death, the demons that drive idolatry came back with a vengeance. Many times we too when we fall back into sinful behavior end up worse than we were before and commit even greater sins. Because we are God’s children through faith in Christ, God will not let us remain there. He will call us back to repentance and faith. He may let us fall into the worse circumstances to make us see the result of our sinful waywardness. Yet like Manasseh, if we do become repentant, if we humble ourselves before the Lord, confess our sins and seek his grace that is found in Christ Jesus our Lord, he will restore us. None of us are too far gone to be out of reach of the saving hand of God.

 

If you find yourself in sin once again, do not stay there and do not listen to the voices that say there is no hope. Call upon the Lord Jesus Christ and he will have mercy on you.

Heavenly Father, when we fall from grace grant us the gift of repentance that we may turn again to you the source of all mercies and be restored again to the grace found in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: September 13th


#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Given Us Promises To Fight Our Enemies

September 13th

Read 2 Chr 32:1–22

2Ch 32:7 ESV  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him.

2Ch 32:20-22 ESV  Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven.  (21)  And the LORD sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword.  (22)  So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.

 

Do you think Hezekiah had heard about Elisha and the Syrians?  Hezekiah knew the Word of the Lord.   He knew the promises of his God.  Hezekiah proclaims these promises to his people to encourage them against the Assyrians despite all the Assyrian victories over peoples and their gods.  He and Isaiah then go and pray these promises of God the Lord and rest their hope in them.  Well the Lord heard their prayers and saw their faith in Him.  The Lord delivered Jerusalem from the hands of the Assyrians.

 

We too have promise from the Lord. Rom 8:1-2 ESV  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (2)  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:15 ESV  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Rom 8:34-39 ESV  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  (35)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  (36)  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  (37)  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  (38)  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  (39)  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

With these promises and many more promises are we to live and face our enemies: sin, death and the devil.  We live our lives trusting that these things are true.  And when the enemy besets us just like the Assyrians beset Jerusalem we pray these promises, we pray this Word of God.  Asking the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill His promises in His Word are the most spiritual prayers we can pray.  They will stand against all the assaults of the adversaries.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, in the hour of our need and at all other times, because we are always in need, remember Your promises and deliver us from our adversaries of the flesh, the world and Satan.  Amen.