#DailyDevotion What Temporal Good Do You Love More Than Jesus?


#DailyDevotion What Temporal Good Do You Love More Than Jesus?

Mark 10:19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him,  “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

 

Jesus doesn’t seem to particularly care about the order of the commandment. He starts with the fifth, combines the ones on coveting and ends with the fourth. Interestingly enough in the parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel follows the same pattern but the coveting ones are not mentioned and love your neighbor as yourself ends the list. Perhaps we shouldn’t argue so much about the order of them.

 

But note what commandments are missing, the first table of the law: you shall have no other gods, don’t misuse the name of the Lord, remember the Sabbath day. You could say Jesus gave a passing glance at them when he pointed to God as good. But no, I don’t think that is what Jesus is doing. Surprisingly most people don’t have a general problem with the second table of the law in principle. You’d be surprised the number of pagans, spiritualist and even atheist will appeal to these and say I don’t need God or your God to keep these. In truth, many people keep these outwardly. This man believes, at least outwardly in the God of Israel and is outwardly keeping the first table. He also sincerely believes he’s been keeping the second table of the Law since his bar mitzvah. When the man says this, he just looks at him and loves him. He knows the man is sincere. He knows the man knows he is missing on something and is seeking to find what that something is.

 

So Jesus then returns to the first table of the Law. This man has an perverse attachment to his wealth. Jesus tells him to sell everything he has, give it to the poor and follow him. The man has first commandment issues. He was looking to his wealth for every good and not God. He would rather have his temporary possessions than eternal life. Jesus points to himself as the first table of the Law. To follow Jesus is to have no other gods, is to not misuse his name and to keep the Sabbath holy. Following Jesus is keeping the first table of the Law.

 

So what about you? What would Jesus tell you to get rid of to follow him? It isn’t the same for all people. If you lost everything you had and did not have joy in Christ, what would find you have replaced Christ with? What you be angry at God for taking away from you? Would it be wealth, a job, a spouse, a child, a car, alcohol, drugs, sex, a church, a political party or some way of thinking even? What are you so attached to in this life you would refuse to enter into life eternal with Jesus because he took it from you? That is what your true god is. Would you pray this prayer; Dear Jesus remove from me all things in my life that keep me from following you that I may trust in you alone and enter into eternal life.

 

Heavenly Father, we cling to many things in this life that prevent us from following Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Give us new hearts and spirits that look and cling to Christ Jesus alone that nothing would hinder us from entering eternal life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Keep The Whole Law To Inherit Eternal Life


#DailyDevotion Keep The Whole Law To Inherit Eternal Life

Mark 10:17 As [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him,  “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments:

 

Sometimes as Lutherans, because we know we are saved by grace alone though faith alone in Christ alone we forget we can be saved by our good works. This man’s question to Jesus isn’t really all that crazy. Look at Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, Luk 10:25-28 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  (26)  He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  (27)  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  (28)  And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

 

It’s clearly taught in the Old Testament. Lev 18:5 “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” Eze 20:11 “I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live.” So yes, you may certainly obey the Law of God given in the Old Testament and inherit eternal life. This man certainly thought he was doing that. Many Jewish people in Jesus’ day thought they were doing that, at least as far as how keeping the commandments of God were being taught by the  Rabbis who added and subtracted from God’s Law. Never the less the young man felt something was missing hence his question.

 

The thing is, no one is able to keep the Law of God perfectly and completely. Even if you perform all the animal sacrifices required for making atonement for when you failed on even a single point you still were not keeping the Law as the Lord had intended it. Peter tells us in the book of Acts when the Church was deciding whether the Law should be applied to the Gentiles, Act 15:10 “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” But, and it’s a big but, if you kept the Law of the Lord perfectly, including the sacrifices for sin which dealt with our transgressions, you could inherit eternal life. But no one has been able to do this but Jesus from Nazareth. He became our sacrifice and our fulfillment of the Law. As the only one able to inherit eternal life by keeping the Law he gives us that life in his death. So Peter also says, Act 15:11 “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Yes we inherit eternal life by being joined to Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection through faith and baptism into Jesus. Through faith in Jesus we receive his grace, eternal life, we inherit his kingdom he won for us by the shedding of his blood. It is a gift of God. Thanks be to God for that.

 

Gracious God and Father, you gave the Law so that men may learn to rely upon you alone for eternal life, grant us faith in your Son Jesus Christ that we may receive the gift of life from him and then begin to fulfill the Law of trusting him and loving our neighbor as ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Don’t Be Like Unbelieving Israelites. In Faith Enter The Promised Land.


#DailyDevotion Don’t Be Like Unbelieving Israelites. In Faith Enter The Promised Land.

Hebrews 3:12–19 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

 

Sometimes people wonder why look at the Old Testament if it has been abrogated by the New Testament. Well besides it from which we preach Jesus Christ (which is its most important aspect) it also teaches us how the Lord operated with his people of old and we can be certain that he has not changed.

 

Hebrews warns us not to have an evil unbelieving heart that would lead us to fall away from the Living God. He tells us to exhort one another daily as long as each day is called today to stay away from sin lest it lead us astray and harden our hearts against our Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to correct one another’s sins and encourage one another with the good news of Jesus Christ, the free gift of eternal life.

 

As an example he reminds us of the rebellion by the Israelites in Numbers 14. The Lord had brought them to the edge of the Promise Land and told them to go in. The Israelites sent in spies and all but two came back and spread fear among the Israelites because the greatness of the people there God had commanded them to conquer. Only Caleb and Joshua were faithful to the Lord. They reported the same things but encouraged the people of the Lord’s promise to give them the land but they were overwhelmed by the witness of the other ten. Because of this, the Israelites had to wander the wilderness forty years until that generation, who had seen all the wonders of the Lord in Egypt and up to that place died away.

 

Those rebellious people who would not believe the Lord’s promise would not enter the rest of the Promised Land. They could not enter because of their unbelief. The same Lord who brought their children into the Promised Land is the very same Lord Jesus Christ. He has come and promised us he was going to make a place for us. He has promised us a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness reigns. He has promised us a new creation where there is no more sin or results of sin, no more death, no more grief or pain, no more sorrow. It is the land Abraham saw when the Lord promised it to him and his descendents. You are his descendent, his seed, if you trust Jesus Christ and his word. If you hold fast to his promise that he is the propitiation for your sin before your heavenly Father you will enter that rest. Just as Jesus was faithful to bring the Israelites into Canaan, he will bring you into the kingdom of God.

 

Almighty God and Father, ever surround us with people of your word who will exhort us to holy lives and faith in your Son Jesus Christ that we may not be like those in the rebellion but their children who entered into the Promise Land and we your place of rest. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Seek The Lord. Do Good. Don’t Say It Isn’t My Job.


#DailyDevotion Seek The Lord. Do Good. Don’t Say It Isn’t My Job.

Amos 5:6–7, 10–15 6    Seek the Lord and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,                    and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, 7 O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth! 10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. 11 Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12 For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins—           you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,   and turn aside the needy in the gate. 13 Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. 14              Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. 15                 Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

 

Amos the prophet is addressing the Israelites who had abandoned the ways of the Lord. The Lord had given statutes, precepts and commandments that were to guide them in treating everyone fairly. But they were not following these, therefore the Lord was about to pour out his wrath upon them. He pleads with them through the prophet, “Seek the Lord and live!” To seek the Lord was to be in his word, hear it, learn it, trust it and to do it.

 

But they were not. Instead, they took justice and righteousness and treated it with contempt. They did not treat one another fairly or equitably. They bribed judges and judges took bribes. The poor were treated with contempt and the rich were treated more favorably in the courts of their time. Not only in the courts were the poor treated unfairly but they were being taxed when they should not have been. Their needs were turned aside. Collections were taken to take care of the poor, the widows and orphans and the foreigners and yet these were not being distributed but rather were used up by those for whom it was not intended.

 

On top of that, no one would receive rebukes or corrections or calls for repentance from God’s word, his law. They hated those who would call their evil deeds into account. Perhaps they said things like, “Don’t judge me. Only God can judge me.” Does that sound familiar? The Lord counsels the just who trust his word, perhaps this is a good time not to say anything for it is an evil time. Maybe we might take heed of this as well. Because of Israel’s wickedness he warns them they will not use or keep their wealth gained through unrighteousness. He warns them to turn back to him, trust him and do what is right.

 

Perhaps we too should take head to Amos’ warning to Israel. We should make sure we have just judges and fair laws. We should make sure the poor, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner are taken care of from the wealth the Lord has given us and not spurn those who are asking for a hand-out. Is not the Lord of Heaven and Earth going to judge the whole earth by his righteousness?  Therefore seek the Lord. He is found in Jesus of Nazareth. He does not want us to perish in judgment but rather we turn from our selfish ways, trust Jesus to take care of us and for us to take care of our neighbor as we are able.

Heavenly Father, grant that we may be impartial, have just judges and laws, and we may treat others mercifully as you have shown us mercy in Christ Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion If You’re Going To Be Saved You Need To Grow Down


#DailyDevotion If You’re Going To Be Saved You Need To Grow Down

Mark 10:13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them,  “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

 

People will often bring their kids to famous people to see them. We’re not quite sure for what purpose they were brining their children to Jesus but it was perhaps so that he would bless them, which he eventually did. But when they did the disciples rebuked them. I guess they thought Jesus had better things to be doing than blessing little children. Maybe they thought little children were beneath the value of Jesus. Children were not terribly valued in the ancient world or at least not valued in the same way as we value them now. Indeed it wasn’t long ago my grandmother told me, as a child, children should be seen and not heard. For the most part they were beneath even slaves because they were not fully formed and their ultimate worth had not yet been determined yet.

 

But Jesus gets indignant with his disciples. He is very mad at them. You might even say he gets red in the face mad. Maybe that might adjust your understanding of Jesus. He isn’t like Barney the dinosaur.

 

Jesus says to let the little children come unto him because such belongs the kingdom of God. Note he doesn’t say they must reach the age of accountability before they can come to him or we can bring them to him. Nope, little children are ripe for the kingdom of heaven. Indeed Jesus says we need to grow down and receive the kingdom of God like a little child to enter into the kingdom of God.

 

What are children like that we must emulate to enter the kingdom of God. We must become helpless, dependent, and humble. To enter the kingdom of heaven we must be brought to Jesus with nothing. We cannot come to him telling all that we did that we deserve to enter into the kingdom of heaven. We cannot parade all our credits as to why we are worthy. No we come to Jesus and say, “I got nothing but your promise.” Such people receive the kingdom like a little child. They are promised something and they believe they will receive it.

 

And finally Jesus blesses the little children laying his hands on them. Jesus continues to bless children who are brought to him through his disciples in the water of baptism. (Joh 4:1-2 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John  (2)  (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),) Jesus puts his name on them and on us and welcomes us into his kingdom.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us the humility of spirit that we may be brought to Jesus like a little child and receive him with childlike faith so we may enter into the kingdom of God and receive all your blessings. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

#DailyDevotion Live In Eternal Life And Not In Your Mortal Coils


#DailyDevotion Live In Eternal Life And Not In Your Mortal Coils

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

 

Oh the wonder that amazes angel and demon, the living and the dead that God would become man and die for fallen man. Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, didn’t die to save angels that rebelled against him but man, who was made in his image and likeness, who rebelled against him.

 

Now through his death Jesus destroys the power of death and the one who has the power death, the devil. You may remember, the wages of sin is death. Through Adam’s sin, the devil brought death into the world. Eternal life that was ours was taken away. For the most part, though we think we are living we are actually walking about dead, without life in us, i.e. God’s life. Every sin we commit is just the fruit of that death. Sins continue the darken an already dead soul. Death removes us from the life of God and places in the place of eternal torment which was prepared to torture the angels who rebelled. Since we know we’re going there, at least that is what we deserve we become slaves to the fear of death. If we were somewhat logical, you’d think we would stop sinning knowing that it’s just making things worse for us. But our perverse minds think, “This is it. I just have this life. I must do whatever it takes to get what I want otherwise I will never get it.” And whatever it takes is the driving force for our sin. It is our slave driver. It makes us also a slave to sin.

 

But there is good news. God the Son has become our brother and was made like us in every respect except for sin. As our faithful high priest in service to God, Jesus has made propitiation and expiation for the sins of the people in his flesh. He has paid the penalty of death for us. Jesus has tasted the death we deserve for us. He was tempted in every way, just as we are tempted, yet he did not give in to sin. He is our substitute. Now the devil can no longer accuse us before God. Satan has been cast out of heaven. Eternal life has been won and given to you by Jesus.

 

We need no longer be slaves to the fear of death. Jesus has promised us eternal life now. It is a present possession. Though this body of death we carry about will die we will not taste death on that day. On top of that just as Jesus is risen from the dead never to die again, all who trust in him and his work will also rise to eternal life on the day of his revelation. We don’t have to live as this is the only life we get and then the judgment. We can live as if we have all eternity to get what we want. Indeed what we want may change tremendously when Jesus gives us his life now. It will certainly be changed when we are completely renewed, have shed off mortality and put on immortality. In the life of Christ we find newness of life.

 

Almighty Father, you sent Jesus to destroy the one who has the power of death and free us from the slavery of the fear of death by giving us the gift of eternal life through faith in your Son. Grant that we live in his life today and now in our mortal coils. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion We Have Been Sanctified By One Like Us


#DailyDevotion We Have Been Sanctified By One Like Us

Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

 

You can see the interpenetration of the Godhead in verse ten. The ‘he’ here is God the Father. Hebrews says “for whom and by whom all things exist” which is also said of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1Co 8:6  “and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” Now this God and Father makes the founder of our salvation, his Son our Lord Jesus Christ perfect through suffering. Jesus is the founder, the beginning and is made perfect, i.e. complete, fulfilled, the telos, the end through suffering. It is in this suffering Jesus says, “It is finished.” (Jn 19:30)

Paul says of Jesus’ suffering, 2Co 1:5 “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” That is to say, Christ’ suffered in our place as our atoning sacrifice. Christ Jesus communed with us by participating in our suffering. Now we also participate in his suffering in our suffering in faith in him.

 

Now through this suffering he sanctifies us even as he was set apart for our sufferings. He sanctifies us and we are sanctified. We all have one origin and that is Adam, who flesh and blood has unites us all in condemnation yet in Jesus who is the second Adam, he unites us all on the cross and makes atonement for the sin of the world. This Jesus indeed shares in our flesh and blood. In his flesh he has sanctified mankind and sanctifies all who put their trust in him.

 

Therefore Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers before the Father of lights. He tells the name of the Lord our God and counts us as brothers. As he has put his trust in the Father we are given as children to our Lord Jesus Christ as we share in his flesh and blood, as we share in his sufferings and our faith is made complete, and as share in his life. We are born of Jesus as we are born of his faith. Baptized into his name, his suffering and death, and his resurrection, we are born of Christ in those holy waters. There he has sanctified us and made us his own. Now through the word of promise and through his body and blood he continues to sanctify us and make us whole.

 

Heavenly Father, you have made your Son Jesus Christ the author and perfecter of our faith. Grant that as Jesus is the beginning of our faith, that he may complete that faith, we may endure all things until he raises us with him unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion What Christ Has In The Flesh Is Given To Us


#DailyDevotion What Christ Has In The Flesh Is Given To Us

Hebrews 2:5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;           you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

 

In Jesus we see the glory of God and we see the glory of man. The world to come is subject to Christ Jesus and those who are being renewed in his image and likeness. We should remember this passage of Hebrews the author is reminding us Jesus is better than the angels. While angels are indeed more powerful in might than man in this age, the our Father has placed them in service to mankind. Jesus as man is the perfect image and likeness of the Father.

 

Yet, for now, as the Psalmist says, Jesus is made a little lower than the angels, for he has taken on our fallen human flesh, just like us. But the Father has crowned him with glory and honor putting everything under his feet. In signs and wonders Jesus demonstrated everything was subject to him. We do not see everything subject to him. We believe this through faith. We see Jesus Christ and him crucified. We believe he is risen from the dead and sitting at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus has been and is crowned with glory and honor because of his suffering and death. By the grace of God he tasted this death for everyone. Death is the penalty for sin. We because of our sinfulness deserve death. Jesus has taken that penalty of death for all people everywhere. Those who have faith in Jesus, who believe he has taste death for him do not experience the pains of death. Jesus has removed it from them. This promise is for you. Jesus says as much, Joh 11:25-26  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  (26)  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

 

Now what the Father gives to Jesus, he gives to all those who trust in Jesus. We have been made one with Christ. We are one spirit with him. Paul equates to the relationship and rights of a husband and wife. What God gives to his Son in flesh, he also has given to those who belong to him. The honor and glory that is Christ is given to those who trust in Christ and are being renewed in his image and likeness.

 

Gracious God and Father, you have given your Son Jesus into death to taste death for everyone by your grace. Grant us your grace that we might believe this and receive eternal life, escape the pains of death and receive the honor and glory of Jesus Christ through our union with him. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.