#DailyDevotion Following Christ’s Humiliation Will Lead You To His Exaltation

#DailyDevotion Following Christ’s Humiliation Will Lead You To His Exaltation

Phil. 2 Now if you are encouraged in Christ, moved by comforting words of love, if you and we have the same Spirit, if you are tender and sympathetic, 2make me very happy – be one in thought and in love, live in harmony, keep one purpose in mind. 3Don’t be selfish or proud, but humbly treat others as better than yourselves. 4Each of you, don’t be interested in your own things, rather in the things of others. 5Think just as Christ Jesus thought: 6Although He was God, He did not consider His being equal with God as a prize to be displayed, 7but He emptied Himself, made Himself a slave, became like other human beings, 8and was seen to have the ways of a man. He became obedient and humbled Himself until He died, yes, died on a cross. 9That is why God also exalted Him up on high and gave Him the name above every other name 10that at the name of JESUS everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth should kneel, 11and everyone should confess, “JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!” and so glorify God the Father.

Now we must remember that Paul is talking to a Christian congregation. It is only a Christian congregation that can be encouraged in Christ, moved by comforting words of love, have a the same Spirit and be tender and sympathetic. Yet we are not always acting as if this is the case. Of course it is when forget we have these things that we do not act according to them. They are only brought about by the good news of Jesus Christ, whether it is what he has done for you freely by his grace, is doing for you freely by his grace or has promised to do for you freely by his grace. Notice, none of these things are based on the good things you have done.

But if we remember these things given us by Christ Jesus purely by his good graces, then Paul calls us to one thought and love, live in harmony, keep one purpose of mind, not be selfish or proud, humbly treat others better than ourselves and be interested in the welfare of others. Sometimes that seems like a pretty tall order and it is ‘if’ we were calling us to do these of our own power and strength. But he isn’t asking us to do these things of our own power and strength but rather the supernatural power of the Gospel of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Paul further then, in case we have forgotten this power points us again to Jesus. Jesus, being equal to God didn’t show himself, that is, his power, glory and might to us to save us. Instead he emptied himself, became like us in every way. He became obedient to the Father and humbled himself death, even the death of a cross. Believing he did this for our salvation, we are called now to follow in that path. If we believe these things about our LORD and Savior, if we trust he did these things for us, then we will do as he has done. It’s not the way of world. It’s not the way of our fallen nature, our old adam. It is the way Christ Jesus and our new way in him. We will have to repent of our old way, our old adam frequently and humble him and make him obedient to the Spirit.

If this seems hard Paul again points us to Christ Jesus. God the Father raised Jesus to his right hand and exalted him above everything that can be named in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Everything will humble itself before him and proclaim Jesus as the LORD and so glorify the Father. In similar fashion, we should remember that since we are in Christ, our LORD Jesus Christ plans on exalting us before the Father on that day as well. Being humbled in Jesus now, we will be exalted in Jesus as well.

Heavenly Father, grant us a spirit of humility so we may follow in the path of your Son Jesus Christ so we may be exalted with him on the Last Day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Do You Really Want God To Be Fair With You?

#DailyDevotion Do You Really Want God To Be Fair With You?

Ezekiel 1825“And yet you say, “The LORD’s way isn’t fair.’ Listen, Israel, is My way unfair? Isn’t it your ways that are unfair? 26When a righteous man turns from his righteousness, does wrong and dies, he dies for the wrong he did. 27When a wicked person turns from the wickedness he did and does what is right and honest, he saves his life. 28If he understands and turns from the wrong he did — he will certainly live and not die. 29“And yet Israel says, “The LORD’s way is unfair. Is My way unfair, Israel? Isn’t it your ways that are unfair? 30I will judge everyone of you according to his deeds, Israel, says the Lord GOD. Come back, turn from all your wrongs or your sin will ruin you. 31Get rid of all your wrongs you have done and get yourselves a new heart and spirit. Why should you die, Israel? 32I don’t want anyone to die, says the Lord GOD. Turn, then, and live.”

God’s ways are higher than our ways and God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. The world and the religions it makes up are tit for tat. The world runs on karma, or so we think.  The Jews Ezekiel and the LORD are dealing with certainly think so. In fact, they are probably running on a much more vengeful streak of “you bring a knife and we’ll bring a gun” type of thinking. At least they think God works that way and so as you believe so you will do.

But now God brings forth to them how he really thinks and works.  He has been for a number of verses here in chapter eighteen explaining how if a man does evil he will die and if he does good he will live. But then he throws a wrench into that mix, as far as we think as fallen human beings.

If the one working evil turns, repents of his wickedness and start doing what is right and honest he saves his life. It’s not just his life in this world he saves, i.e. things will start going better for him, but his soul. Confessing his wickedness and turning to God, the LORD and his ways sets his relationship straight with the LORD.  The Jews didn’t think that was particularly fair. If someone lives a righteous life and does good up to the last days of their life and they turn from the LORD and his ways and starts living wickedly and then dies, none of the good they have done their whole life will be remembered. Apparently God does accounting by Last In First Out (LIFO). It is this that Israel thinks is unfair. But the LORD is not so much concerned with what we do as much as what we believe or rather who or what that we trust.

Who and what we trust for our daily lives and the world to come determines how we are living right now. Now you might not think that is particularly fair. Why live a good life if it doesn’t seem to be rewarded with eternal life when you can “have a good time”  and then repent at the end and live? You should ask those who have lived such a life and have repented of it. They will tell you it was a living hell. Living a good life today, trusting in the LORD is its own reward. Yet how can all the evil we have done be just forgotten? It is forgotten for the sake of Jesus Christ. Having become Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the LORD Jesus Christ has taken our punishment into his own soul and made atonement for it. Now trust in him, get a new heart and a new spirit in baptism and you will live eternally. This is fairness to God. If you trust this, then you will live out the life God wants you to live.

Heavenly Father, grant that we may turn from our wicked ways, trust in your Son Jesus Christ that we may not die but live. Give us your Spirit that we may live our lives according to your holy will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

#DailyDevotion The Soul That Sins Will Die

#DailyDevotion The Soul That Sins Will Die

Ezekiel 18 The LORD said to me: 2“What do you mean when you use this saying in the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth feel numb? 3As I live, says the Lord GOD, you will certainly not use this saying anymore in Israel. 4All persons belong to Me, so a son and father are alike to me. The one who sins will die.

So apparently the Jews had this saying. It basically means the children suffer for their parents sins. The LORD was not happy with it. There was some basis for this thinking in Israel because of what the LORD said in Exodus, 206“I punish the children for their fathers’ sins, if they hate Me, to the third and fourth generation, but I am kind to thousands of those who love Me and do what I order.” But I guess we must ask in what manner is this carried out? It would seem that it is carried out in temporal terms. Children see the bad behavior of their parents and they follow them in their sins. The parents bad behavior has temporal consequences which the children suffer for as well, because they are dependent upon the parents. Ezekiel when he writes this is in Babylon in exile because of sins of the inhabitants of Judah, they worshipped idols and did not love their neighbor. Some of exiles had committed these sins and others who maybe not as overt or at least did not condemn the sins of their neighbors were carried away in exile as well.

Yet, the LORD says, 3“As I live, says the Lord GOD, you will certainly not use this saying anymore in Israel.” The LORD wants to clear up this understanding the Jews have about their God. He tells them, “All persons belong to Me, so a son and father are alike to me. The one who sins will die.” He does not punish with eternal death those who are not guilty of sins. No, the one who sins will die. He spends a number of verses which our Sunday lesson will not read detailing the sins they were guilty of, idolatry, sexual sins, harsh treatment of the poor,  and the rest of the Torah. He tells us quite explicitly, 20“A righteous person is credited for his righteousness, and a wicked person suffers for his wickedness.”

Yet we know there is no one who is righteous, no not one. Everyone sins. Yet temporally the LORD is going after the one who continually sins against him. He is not going after the children who do not follow in the path of their father or mother. Temporally, we all die because we all sin. But what happens afterwards? There are two options, eternal life and eternal death. How can we escape from eternal death knowing we have sinned and deserve as much?

God has provided us an escape from our sins, Jesus tells us in John 316“God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” Paul tells us in Romans 35“But if instead of working you believe in Him Who declares the ungodly righteous, your faith is counted as righteousness.” So we who hear the promise that Christ Jesus has saved us from our sins are declared righteous, not guilty, innocent and righteous on account of the faith we have in Jesus our LORD. Instead of everlasting death for our sins we gain eternal life for our faith in him.

Heavenly Father, though our sins are great and we deserve no good thing from you, grant us faith in your son Jesus Christ, the LORD, so that we may not be punished eternally for our sins, but instead pass into eternal life for his sake. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Is This A Parable Of Grace Or Works?

#DailyDevotion Is This A Parable Of Grace Or Works?

Matt. 20“The kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a place who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2He agreed with the workers to pay them a denarius a day and sent them into his vineyard. 3About nine o’clock he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4You go into the vineyard too,’ he told them, “and I’ll pay you what’s right.’ So they went. 5“He went out again about twelve o’clock and three o’clock and did the same thing. 6About five o’clock he went out and found some others standing around. ‘Why are you standing here all day long doing nothing?’ he asked them. 7“ No one has hired us,’ they answered him. “ You go into the vineyard, too,’ he told them.

What aspect of this parable relates to the kingdom of heaven? Is it that God makes a deal with one group for a set amount and other groups for what is right? You could take it this way. The LORD certainly made a covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai. The deal or covenant went something like this: I saved you from the Egyptians therefore obey these commands, rules, regulations, precepts, statutes, testimonies, word and the like (which form the moral, ceremonial and civil laws) and I will bless you but break them and I will curse you. On the other hand, if non-Israelites obey the law of their hearts, their consciences, then they will be blessed accordingly.

Another way one could take it is you can either live by the Torah and find life in that or by the grace and covenant the LORD showed Abraham, to live by faith, and live in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Certainly there is that promise that to live according to the Torah is life. We also have the gospel promise to believe and trust Jesus is the promised Messiah is to possess his eternal life as a gift.

I don’t think those two ways are the best way to take this parable though. Then how shall we take these verses? What do they mean? I believe we should take in the light of the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin. Neither the sheep nor the coin knew they were lost but someone went looking for them. Here, no one is particularly looking for work. They’re all just hanging around. Sure , they’d work if someone hired them, but they aren’t knocking on doors or anything. It’s the owner of the place who goes out searching for people to work. He finds one group at the beginning of the day and hires them for a set amount. He goes out later and finds more people not working and hires them. Still later he goes out and finds more men not working and hires them to work for him.

Here we see the grace of the kingdom of heaven at work in the world. God, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the free gift of salvation, is calling people to work in his kingdom. This calling or work is mostly not Church work, but living out our earthly lives in whatever work we do as God’s children in Christ Jesus. Our LORD Jesus Christ is continually out and about in the world, through us, calling people to be his disciples and receive his salvation. He calls some people from birth. He calls others as youth, still others as young adults, even others as they gasp their last breath to be his disciples and to trust in him.  Today he is even calling you to trust in his grace and mercy and to live out your life trusting in his promises.

Heavenly Father, by the Gospel of your Son Jesus Christ, you call us to work in the world as disciples of Christ. Grant us faith to heed the call and be workers in his kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Are You Going To The Wedding?

#DailyDevotion Are You Going To The Wedding?

Matt. 22 Again Jesus used parables in talking to them. He said: 2“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding, but they refused to come. 4Then he sent other slaves and said to them, “Tell the people who are invited, ‘Look! I prepared my dinner. My bulls and fattened calves are killed, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding.’” 5But they paid no attention and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6band the rest took his slaves, shamefully mistreated them, and murdered them. 7″The king became angry. He sent his soldiers and they killed those murderers. and burned their city.

It’s quite interesting that Jesus picks up a wedding feast as an example for the kingdom of heaven. In the Old Testament it is written, Isa 54:5 “He Who made you is your Husband; His name is the LORD of armies. And the Holy One of Israel redeems you; He is called the God of the whole earth.” Jer. 31:32“‘It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers when I took them by their hand to lead them out of Egypt — My covenant that they broke although I was their Husband,’ says the LORD.” Hos 2:16 Then,” says the LORD, “she will call Me ‘Ishi’ [My Husband] and no more call Me ‘Baali’ [My Master],..” We can see from these Old Testament passages the LORD considered Israel to be his bride and he was her groom.

This theme is also picked up in the New Testament, besides the Gospels by Paul and John, 2Co 11:2 “I am jealous of you with godly jealousy. I promised you in marriage, to bring you as a pure bride to one husband — to Christ.” Eph 5:23, 31, 32 “because a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the Head of the church, which is His body that He saves…31This is why a man will leave his father and mother and live with his wife, and the two will be one flesh. 32There’s a great truth hidden here – I mean that of Christ and the church.” Rev 21:2 “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God in heaven, dressed as a bride, ready to meet her husband.”

Now Jesus is the Groom and Israel, the Church, are the Bride. The servants are the prophets, apostles and pastors of Israel, the Church. The people who went their own way and did not accept the invitation, who are too busy with life are those who hear the good news of the kingdom and get themselves instead busy with life. They are more concerned with the deceit of worldly things than the life which is forever. Those who mistreated them are those who have killed the prophets apostles, and pastors of Israel, the Church. Because of this, the LORD had destroyed Israel, Judah and the temple twice and those have rejected his claim on them as his bride. Indeed, it is written, “Judgment begins with the house of God,” so those in the Church who hear the good news and reject it will also be so treated on the Last Day when Christ Jesus comes again to receive his Bride.

So where will you be on that day? Have life got you so wrapped up in its details that you have forgotten your betrothed (fiance’)? Do you abuse those God sends to you with the good news? Or do you joyfully receive the invitation to God’s kingdom, meet your Groom in the congregation of the saints, and thank God for those who have brought you this invitation to repent of your sins and believe on Jesus Christ? Be the latter and not the former.

Heavenly Father, may we in faith accept the invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb, trust in Jesus as our Husband and rejoice in those who bring us the good news. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Living As Citizens Of The Kingdom

#DailyDevotion Living As Citizens Of The Kingdom

Phil. 127But live as citizens worthy of the good news of Christ so that, whether I come and see you or stay away, I will hear you are standing firm, one in spirit, and fighting side by side like one man for the faith in the good news. 28Don’t let your enemies frighten you in any way. This is how you prove to them that they will be destroyed and you will be saved, and this proof is from God. 29It is given to you to be for Christ, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him 30as you have the same struggle you once saw me have and now hear that I have.

Now Philippi was a Roman colony. It was a retirement community for Roman soldiers who had earned their citizenship by retiring from the Roman army in good standing. Because of this Paul will often use military language and Roman citizenship language when writing to them. It was a language they could understand.

So when Paul says to live as citizens worthy of the good news of Christ he is striking a couple of chords with this congregation. For one he is telling them to live as good citizens of Rome. He expects them to live honorable lives that fellow citizens would look at and praise. These people had already earned their citizenship so it was very important to them. Secondly, they have now also, through the good news of Jesus Christ, been made citizens of the kingdom of God. Therefore they should also live such good lives up and above Roman citizenship that their fellows will wonder what is up with them.

Paul encourages them like good Roman soldiers to stand firm in faith, one in spirit, and fighting side by side for the faith in the good news; more soldier talk from St. Paul to move them to be one with Christ and one with one another in the good news. As St. Paul also tells us in Ephesians 4, 3“Do your best to keep the oneness of the Spirit by living together in peace: 4one body and one Spirit – even as you have been called to share one hope – 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, Who rules over us all, works through us all, and lives in us all.” There is only one faith not many faiths in Christ Jesus. There is only one body. So in Philippian talk, they have one cause to fight for, one army to fight with. The cause is the good news that in Christ Jesus we have the free gift of the forgiveness of sins. The cause is the good news that we were granted citizenship freely for Christ’s sake by his death and resurrection.

To these retired soldiers he encourages them not to be frightened by anything. Certainly these guys have seen the worst of war. Sometimes they have been the worst of war. But now in Christ, they may be called to suffer with Christ for their faith in him. They will not be suffering alone, for Jesus suffers with them. They have they example of Paul who is suffering the same fate, persecution for his testimony of Jesus Christ. They, like we, are not only called to have faith in Jesus but to suffer with Jesus as he sees fit. We too are called to fight side by side with one another in prayer, meditation, encouragement, study and living out the faith. We too may be called to suffer as St. Paul, Jesus and the Philippian Christians were called to suffer. We too then will win the prize set before us, eternal life in the kingdom of God, citizens of heaven and children of God the Father.

Heavenly Father, give us greater faith and the power of the Holy Spirit to fight the good fight of faith and to stay faithful to your son Jesus Christ when suffering for his name’s sake, through Jesus Christ our LORD who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

#DailyDevotion To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain

#DailyDevotion To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain

Phil. 119because I know that your prayer and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ will make this turn out victoriously for me 20as I eagerly hope there will be nothing for me to be ashamed of. But by speaking very boldly I will now as always glorify Christ in my body by living or by dying 21since for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22If I live here in my body, I’ll enjoy the results of my work. And which would I choose? I don’t know. 23I find it hard to choose between the two. I want to leave and be with Christ; that is much better. 24But for your sake it is more necessary that I remain in the body. 25And since I am convinced of this, I know I’ll live and be with all of you to help you grow and be happy in your faith. 26And so by coming to you again I want to give you all the more reason to glory in Christ Jesus.

Now, it is true that Paul was an apostle, but he was a fallen human being like you and me and had to live by the grace we have in Christ Jesus. Paul when writing this is not some super Christian other than his apostolic authority. He had the same weaknesses and strengths as we all do. He we see how we can be living in these last days by the power of the Holy Spirit given us in baptism.

Now Paul by prayer, his and others, live by the faithful knowledge that his circumstances will turn our victorious for him, that is spiritual ends or goals. He hopes that he will do nothing to be ashamed of in this current trial and tribulation. Indeed our prayers and the prayers of others to our faithful God indeed give us strength for the day. Paul wants to glorify Christ in his body in living or in dying. This should be our prayer and hope as well. Can we say we ask the Lord of Creation, our God to help us to do the same? If not, maybe we should start. There are too many of us that in our daily demeanor do not look all that different from unbelievers. If that is so, are we trying to glorify God with our bodies, whether living or dying?

Paul says “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What does this mean? As long as we are in the body, the gospel of Jesus Christ should have us live as Christ lived. First, it is to have our whole lives dedicated to the service of our Father in heaven, trusting in him for all good things. Second, it is to love our neighbor. In our daily lives we are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to have mercy on people, to forgive people, and to live humble lives in service to one another. While we’re in the body we live in service to one another and get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. For some it is being a living example of faith while dying and humbly accepting the help of others.

Yet, Paul says it is better to be with the LORD Jesus Christ. Yes, when we have finished our work, our LORD Jesus Christ will call us home to himself and bring us to the resurrection of all flesh where we will see with our own eyes his reign over creation and reign with him. Being with Christ in this way, we will live a life without sin and without sin in the world. It is definitely better to be with Christ. But until Jesus does call us home to himself, we will accomplish that which God wills and works and in our life to give glory to Jesus in what we say, think and do, especially for our neighbor and our fellow Christian, even if it is being the object of other Christians’ mercy.

Heavenly Father, continuously give us your Holy Spirit that we may glorify Christ Jesus with our bodies in service to you and our fellows until you call us home to yourself, through Jesus Christ your Son our LORD who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

#DailyDevotions Be Emboldened By The Martyrdom Of Your Fellow Christians

#DailyDevotions Be Emboldened By The Martyrdom Of Your Fellow Christians

Phil. 112I want you to know, my fellow Christians, that what happened to me actually helped spread the good news 13so that the whole palace guard and all the others have found out I’m in chains for Christ. 14And so my chains have given most of our friends the confidence in the Lord to speak God’s Word more boldly and fearlessly than ever.

Paul has been imprisoned. This most likely after his appeal to Caesar when he was arrested in Jerusalem. It’s kind of ironic that he is writing from prison to the Philippians in that he was imprisoned in Philippi when he was preaching there.

Now Paul is being more than positive or he is doing more than positive thinking when he is penning his words here in verses twelve to fourteen. Paul is being faithful the promises he had received in Christ Jesus.  Being positive is trying to find the silver lining with no promise of one being there. Being faithful is having a good outlook on things because we have promises from God to trust. God promised Paul to work through him to convert the Gentiles to faith in Jesus.

So even though Paul is imprisoned, he sees God’s promises coming to pass through him in his circumstances. His imprisonment, instead of impeding Paul’s evangelism, actually helped spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Whosever palace is imprisoned at (probably Caesar’s at this point) the whole palace guard and others found out Paul is in chains for Christ. No doubt Paul is given witness to the free gift of forgiveness of sins and of eternal life there is in Jesus Christ. The message of eternal life in Jesus Christ must have resonated with those prisoners who were facing death like Paul was. Roman guards were not immune to death. Their job put them in peril’s way all the time. That there is a free gift of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus no doubt resonated with their hearts as well.

Not only was the good news spreading throughout the palace but the friends of Paul, instead of becoming meek in preaching the good news of Jesus Christ for fear of arrest instead became emboldened to speak God’s word more boldly and fearlessly than ever. Paul faced death with face in Christ. He rescued others from the snares of death also. They also worked hard trusting they had eternal life and they were rescuing others from the peril of eternal death.

We too should be emboldened to spread the good news by Paul’s and the early church’s fearless proclamation in our age. We should be embolden by the witness of our brothers and sisters in Christ who hold fast to their confession of faith despite being sold into slavery, torture, imprisonment and death across the world even to this day for their faith in Jesus Christ. We must not let the world and the devil who is behind the world to curb our witness to the free gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who put their faith in Jesus Christ. When you are made to feel meek about your faith by the devil’s working in your life, remember Paul, the early church and your fellow Christians suffering around the world today for their witness and get courage again to be bold and fearless about your faith. You are going to live forever in Christ Jesus. They can only hurt you for a while and made your body dead temporarily. In Jesus you have his kingdom forever.

Heavenly Father, grant us such faith as all the martyrs had in Christ Jesus so that when the world causes us to be meek about our faith we may be emboldened to witness about the good news of Jesus Christ to those around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion God Just Doesn’t Think Like Us

#DailyDevotion God Just Doesn’t Think Like Us

Isaiah 556Search for the LORD while He can be found; call on Him while He is near. 7Every wicked man should give up his way, and every evil man what he’s thinking. If he comes back to the LORD, He will be merciful to him, and to our God, He will forgive him ever so much. 8“My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways,” says the LORD. 9“As high as heaven is above the earth, so far are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts.

Indeed search for the LORD while he may be found and call on Him while he is near. But where should we search for him? Should we go to the mountain tops? Maybe the golf course or fishing hole? Maybe we should search inward into the depths of our heart and soul? Yet while the LORD is everywhere, he has not promised to be everywhere for you. So where should we search for the LORD where he may be found and how shall we call upon him?

In Exodus 20:24 the LORD says, “Every place where I have you confess My name I will come to you and bless you.” It is written, “I’ve built the temple for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel”(1 Kings 8:20) and ““My name will be there. Listen to Your servant as he prays toward this place.”(1 Kings 8:29) In the Mosaic Covenant, the people of Israel were to go to the temple where the LORD had placed his name. They were to look towards that place when they prayed. But we are no longer under the Mosaic covenant but the New Testament of Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 18 Jesus says, 20“Where two or three have been brought together in My name, there I am among them.” Where his church gathers in his name there Jesus promises to be found. There he promises to be with us and for us with his word and sacraments. In John 13:14 Jesus also says, “I will do anything you ask in My name in order that the Son may glorify the Father.” It is with the name of Jesus that we told to call upon the LORD our God.

Now in the previous chapters of Isaiah we see the work of Jesus Christ, the suffering servant, on our behalf. We see in the previous verses how the LORD offers to us freely eternal life. Now he even entreats us wicked people to turn to him, give up our wicked ways and thinking. If we come to the LORD he will do what is most unexpected, he will be merciful to us and forgive us whatever we have done, said and thought, however horrible it may seem to us. The LORD has provided us with Jesus to be our atoning sacrifice, our peace offering, our whole burnt offering. The LORD, our Father has provided Jesus for us. It is through faith in Jesus’ work the LORD offers us this free gift of salvation.

It may seem strange to us that He would work this way. We generally think in terms that we must provide the sacrifice. We think our good works must outweigh our bad. Yet this is not how God our Father things. As he said above, 8“My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways,” says the LORD. 9“As high as heaven is above the earth, so far are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts.” Let us then conform our thoughts and ways to the thoughts and ways of our heavenly Father and be saved by His thoughts and ways.

Heavenly Father, your thoughts and ways are far above our own. You have provided the sacrifice for our salvation, your only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Grant us faith that we may turn from our wicked ways and thoughts and turn to you and your ways and thoughts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.