Daily Reading: January 19th

#DailyDevotion God’s Israel Is Those Who Have The Faith Of Abraham-Those Who Trust In Jesus of Nazareth.

January 19th

Read Rom 9:1–18

Rom 9:6-8  But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,  (7)  and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”  (8)  This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.Rom 9:15-16  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  (16)  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.


There are two things we should pay attention to in this reading: 1. Who is Israel and 2. That God is merciful at all.


Despite Washington D.C., conservative Neo-cons and fundamentalist millennialist, the country of Israel over on the eastern side of the Mediterranean is not the true Israel whom the promises of God to Abraham apply.  There may be some there it applies to but for the most part, no.  Who does St. Paul say the name Israel belongs to?  It belongs to those who have the faith of Abraham.  True, to the physical descendents of Abraham had the Law, the Prophets, the writings and the promises but they didn’t believe them.   Note they, for the most part, rejected Jesus who is the promised one to come. Israel falls into idolatry in the time of Jesus by rejecting him hence the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple 40 later after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God.


We who trust in the promises given Abraham are Abraham’s seed.  We are currently 1/3 at least in name the population of the earth.  Of course if that third doesn’t actually believe and trust only in Jesus for their salvation they’re just as much not Israel as the unbelieving Jews are today.  But all who are baptized and believe are Israel and every promise to Abraham and to his descendents applies to them.


Of most importance to us is that God has had mercy on any of us.  Much to the dismay who despair of how God does stuff, usually in disagreement with God about him having mercy on these people but not delivering the good news to other places, God has not asked their opinion and he has mercy on whom he has mercy.  But it of huge importance that he has had mercy on anyone.


Most importantly he has had mercy on you.  He has had you born into a time and place in which the good news of the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ has been given to you.  He has forgiven you in Christ Jesus.  He has made baptism in Jesus available to you.  He has made his son’s body and blood available to you.  He has made his Word available to you.  In short, God has had mercy on you and he didn’t have to do it.  So thank God and be his instrument in bringing this mercy to others.


Lord God, Heavenly Father, we do thank you that you have had mercy on us, delivering your Son Jesus to us in the Word, in Baptism and in the Lord’s Supper.  Ever give us this mercy that we may believe it and be Abraham’s children. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 18th

#DailyDevotion Some Promises Are Only For Those Who Trust In Jesus

January 18th

Read Rom 8:18–39

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Rom 8:23  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Rom 8:25-28  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  (26)  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  (27)  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (28)  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom 8:34-35  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?


First we must remember that Romans chapter 8 is written for Christians.  These words of comfort while God wants for everyone, they currently apply only to those who trust in Christ.  And we as Christians are going to suffer.  We learned that suffering as Christians is something we can rejoice in because it has a purpose in Christ.  We also see that the suffering we currently undergoing is not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed to us.  Paul says something similar in 2Co 4:17  “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…”


We, along with creation, grown inwardly, even as creation groans with all sorts of trials and tribulations, waiting for us to be revealed as the sons of God.  We do hope for what we do not see and we hope with patience knowing God fulfills his promises.  While we wait, the Spirit of God himself intercedes for us according to the will of God.  We don’t always know what to pray for or even sometimes have the ability to pray.  But the Spirit of God prays for us.


Not only does the Spirit pray for us but Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of God.  How can we lose?!  The Spirit and the Son pray, intercedes and make supplications for each and everyone of us according to the will of God.  Their prayers for us are always heard, always answered and always delivered.


So we can bear with things knowing everything is working for our good.  Everything doesn’t work for everyone’s good.  It just works for good for those who love God who have been called according to his purpose.  Who are those?  Chapter 6, those who have been baptized into Christ, who have faith in God’s promise in Christ and have this faith in the work of Jesus on the cross delivered to us in baptism.  And nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus because nothing can separate us from Christ not even you.


Lord God, Heavenly Father ever keep us in this hope that we may not despair of the trials and tribulations in life knowing these are working for our good and not to drive us away from the love you have for us in your son Jesus in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Daily Reading: January 17th

#DailyDevotion There Is No Condemnation For Those Who Walk In The Forgiveness Of Sins.

January 17th

Read Rom 7:21—8:17

Rom 8:1-8  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.  (3)  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  (4)  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  (5)  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  (6)  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  (7)  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  (8)  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


Let’s just start with the law.  Herein we see the doctrine of original sin even as we saw it in Romans 7.  We are born in the flesh there we in our original state cannot please God.  Yet we, while in the flesh may just try to please God.  But when we try to please God we try to please him according to the law.  Doing things according to the law is the way of the flesh.  The flesh thinks that if it does the works of the law then it is pleasing to God.  But the flesh never actually is able nor can it nor does it want to actually do the work of the law.  When it wants to do the work of the law it wants to do it on its own terms and this is the most important part, it wants to tries to do it without faith and trust in God or Christ.  So the flesh cannot please God. God is only pleased with faith and trust in Christ.


The good news is that in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation.  This is the Spirit and those who live in the Spirit live according to this statement.  When we trust God does not accuse or condemn us on account of Christ he accomplishes in us what the law could not do.  He makes us pleasing to himself.  God condemns sin in the flesh of his Son.  While the flesh of fallen man can do nothing, the flesh of God removes our sin.


So now we who are baptized into Christ, who have received the forgiveness sin, who have clothed with the righteousness of Jesus live according to this good news, i.e. the Spirit.  When we live according to the Spirit we actually try to live lives to please God and out of love for him.  When we live according to the law, i.e. the flesh, we may try to do good but not out of faith and trust.  We’re trying to get God’s approval on our terms and not his.  Not only that, but as we see in chapter seven, the very law which we may try to keep incites our passions to break the very law we are trying to keep.


So the life of flesh leads to death because the law leads to sin and sin causes death.  The life of the Spirit leads to life because it is the power of the gospel for salvation.  It gives life and salvation because it is forgiveness of sin.


Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank you for condemning sin in the flesh of Christ that we might life eternal.  Give us your faith that we might live by the Spirit and please you in our lives. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 16th

#DailyDevotion To Live According To The Spirit Is To Live In The Forgiveness Of Sins

January 16th

Read Rom 7:1–20

Rom 7:4-6  Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.  (5)  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  (6)  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code7What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”  (8)  But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 17 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  (17)  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.


We had died to the law having been joined to the body of Christ through baptism.  We do not belong to the law anymore but to Christ to bear good fruit i.e. good works for God.  Here then Paul talks about our previous and current spiritual state.  When we were unregenerate, not born of God, unbelievers our sinful passions were aroused by the law.  The law actually aroused our sinful flesh to break the law.  It is a horrible thing.


Our fallen nature cannot bear the law of God.  It says, “Give a law and I’ll break it.”  The sinful nature is at work in us.  It dwells there and is continuously working sin, it can do no other.


But in baptism, in Christ, we are released from the law.  We have died in Christ and the law has no force for us anymore, that is in our spirit, the new man, the one born again.  We live according to the Spirit now, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our life and our motivation is the forgiveness of sin and the promise of a new world to come.  When we focus our attention, when the gospel of Jesus is the center of our being, the Spirit lives and moves in us to do good, to bear good fruit.


Unfortunately, the sinful flesh remains to keep us humble.  It is still aroused by the law.  We hear the law and we start thinking of ways to break it.  The law still arouses our passions.  It is no longer us who sin anymore it is sin that dwells in my flesh that causes God’s children to sin.  It does not excuse it though.  We are to kill the flesh, to mortify it by exposing its deeds to the light through confession to another human being and hearing the good news that those sins are forgiven.


The law then is for the flesh.  To command it do good when it doesn’t want to and to keep the new man from being deceived as to what are true good works before God.  It has no power to get us to do it.  Only the love of God for us in Christ Jesus with faith in him has us do the law apart from the law in the Spirit of God.


Lord Jesus Christ, put to death in us the sinful flesh and grant us repentance and faith that we might live according to the Spirit, the good news of the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 15th

#DailyDevotion Jesus Sanctifies His People

January 15th

Read Ezek 37:15–28

Eze 37:22-28  And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.  (23)  They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.  (24)  “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.  (25)  They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever.  (26)  I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  (27)  My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  (28)  Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”


On the last day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns, he will gather all his people from all the nations of the world and make them one.  No doubt many of these will be from the house of Israel and from the house of Judah.  But the nations that have been joined to Christ through baptism will also be part of Israel, for only those who have the faith of Abraham, which is faith in Christ Jesus are God’s Israel.  Jesus shall indeed be our king and we shall live with and under him in joy forever.


We see here that it is the Lord who sanctifies his Israel.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the One who saves us from our backslidings.  He is the one who cleanses us from our sins.  He is the one who gathers us together to be his people and declares to us he is our God.  It is an important correction to most our thinking and it certainly is a correction the world’s thinking.  The world and our flesh set about to sanctify ourselves, but we are unable to do this.  Jesus, through the gospel (the forgiveness of sins) and the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) sanctifies us through and through.


Jesus promises to present us before the Father blameless and guiltless.  It is not our doing.  It is all the Holy Spirit’s doing in Christ.  What a great and wonderful promise this is and oh how freeing it is to live under the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As St. Paul tells us in Romans chapter 6 we are no longer under law but under grace.  So Jesus is our covenant of peace with God.  We know he will do all that is necessary to present us to the Father pure and holy.  We will most certainly do it.


Lord God, Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to be our peace before you and for sending the Holy Spirit through word and sacraments to sanctify us and gather us unto yourself as a holy people under your Son Jesus Christ.  Ever keep us in this faith through same word and sacraments unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 14th

#DailyDevotion If You’re Baptized You Need Not Fear Death. You Already Died.

January 15th

Read Rom 6:1–23

Rom 6:3-11  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  (4)  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  (5)  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  (6)  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  (7)  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  (8)  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  (9)  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  (10)  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  (11)  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


This time of year we celebrate the baptism of Jesus.  Here in Romans we understand what Jesus’ baptism means to us.  It is the correlative to what happens to us here in Romans 6.  Here in Romans 6 we are identified and made one with Christ in Baptism.  We are actually and in fact baptized into Christ Jesus.  We are made one with Jesus.  In baptism we are crucified with Jesus.  We died with Jesus.  We were buried with Jesus.  We were raised to a new life in Jesus.


Dead to sin.  We are dead in Christ in baptism.  Sin has no meaning for us anymore.  It is not our ruler.  It is not our captor.  Being dead sin has no more effect on us.  It can no longer accuse us.  How can you accuse someone of sinning if they are dead.  So even if we do sin it is no longer us that sins but sin itself. (Rom. 7)


We have a new life in Christ through baptism is a new lease on life to live in the life of Christ every day.  We don’t have to keep doing the same old stuff.  Our baptism sanctifies us.  Not all at once.  Like the Israelites who were kept in the wilderness lest they fear the occupants of the land and run away, we are kept as sinners who are kept humble though our shortcomings and failings.   We still live diseased and painful lives.  But we have the promise of a resurrection to a new heavens and a new earth.


Jesus in his baptism has united himself with us.  He is united with our sin, our guilt, our shame, our disease, our darkness, our captivity, our death and whatever else in ourselves and our lives which is plain bad.  He is joined to it there and he is joined to it now.


Lord Jesus Christ, through our being baptized into you let us not live in sin any longer but let our lives be living our life for you and the Father.  Amen.

Daily Reading: January 13th

#DailyDevotion God Credits Us With His Righteousness When We Trust His Promises

January 13th

Read Rom 4:1–25

Rom 4:2-8  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  (3)  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”  (4)  Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.  (5)  And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,  (6)  just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:  (7)  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;  (8)  blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”


Listen to the argument St. Paul is giving us. We cannot justify ourselves before God. We cannot stand before God with our own good works. At best at any time we can boast before men, but before God, the best we can ever say is, “We are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty.” We haven’t done that.


God made a promise to Abraham. He promised land, a child and multitudes of descendents. Abraham was as good as dead and Sarah was beyond child bearing years and yet Abraham believed God’s promises. Because of this, the Lord considered or credited to Abraham His righteous on account of his faith. This is not something that is due but it was the gift of God.


In similar fashion, Rom 4:23-25 “But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,  (24)  but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  (25)  who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” We have a promise. Everyone who believes [in Jesus] and is baptized will be saved. We have a promise, “He who believes in me [Jesus] will never die.” These promises are for you. The Lord desires to be gracious to you and to bless you. The Lord wants to gift you the gift of His righteousness. He does not want to condemn you and He does wish to destroy, ungodly and unrighteous as you are.


The Lord justifies the ungodly. He does not justify the righteous (that is those who think, they are righteous by their works). He justifies them as a gift. The Lord gives us the gift of faith through the promise of a free forgiveness won for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died and shed his blood and was raised from the death, the Lord God promises us our sins are forgiven. It is faith in this promise that God credits us as righteousness. For now, all we have is promises. But even has Abraham got Isaac and now has us as his descendents and that promise is fulfilled, in the same manner, the Lord’s promise of forgiveness for the sake of Jesus will be fulfilled as well.


Lord God, you credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness. Grant us such faith in your Son Jesus Christ, that we too, through the promise be credited with your righteousness that we may receive the gift of eternal life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 12th

#DailyDevotion You Need A Different Type Of Righteousness Before God. Yours Won’t Do.

January 12th

Read Rom 3:19–31

Rom 3:20-25  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  (21)  But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–  (22)  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  (23)  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  (24)  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  (25)  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.


St. Paul continues his logic of salvation based on the Law and the Prophets.  Where last we left off, all of us were condemned and we are reminded of that in verse 23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  So there is no boasting before God.  We cannot show ourselves before God and say, “Look what I have done!  I deserve eternal life.”


And no amount of  law will make us better people.  The law gives us knowledge of sin.  This means as we are confronted with the law of God it makes guilty.  We realize where we have fallen short.  The Law has no power to change us for the better.  In chapter seven we shall see it even incites us to sin because of our fallen human nature.  No one is declared righteous before God on the basis of their life.


If we are to stand before God we are going to need a different type of righteousness.  The righteousness that stands before God is his very own righteousness.  It is made our own through faith in Jesus Christ.  That is to say when we trust that Jesus won and purchased for us righteousness and gives it to us freely then it is ours.


So we are declared righteous by grace that is as a free gift of God.  By God’s good favor we hear the good news of Jesus and are given faith to believe we are now declared innocent before God and have been clothed in the good works of Jesus.  Jesus has bought us, redeemed us from sin, death and the power of the devil through the blood of Jesus.  Jesus’ blood like that of the bulls and goats covered the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies has been poured out over the throne of God the Father in heaven and He no longer sees our sin.


Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for covering us with you blood that the Father may only see your righteousness when he looks at us.  Amen.

Daily Reading: January 11th

#DailyDevotion You Have No Personal Claim On God. We All Are Under Sin.

January 11th

Read Rom 3:1–18

Rom 3:5-12  But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)  (6)  By no means! For then how could God judge the world?  (7)  But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?  (8)  And why not do evil that good may come?–as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.  (9)  What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,  (10)  as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  (11)  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  (12)  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”


Verses 5-8 are very often unbelievers’ or ignorant people’s response to the gospel and the justice of God.  While it is true God does transform evil into good.  It is true that God works all things out for good for those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose (Rom. 8), that does not mean we are left without responsibility for our actions or lack of action in this world.  It does not mean there is no wrath of God left for the world.


It is true that God is reconciled to the World through the blood of Christ.  But the World refuses to be reconciled to God.  So the wrath of God remains on it.  It refuses his grace, mercy, forgiveness and peace.  God is also just when he judges the world because frankly he is God we are not.  He is the creator and we are his creation.  If we don’t like it, there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it.


But what St. Paul is trying to do here ultimately in these verses is to show our helplessness to sin, death and the power of the devil.  He is trying to strip away whatever crutches we may have, any latent or not so latent pride so we may realize we have no claim on God.  His conclusion is damning.  There is no one righteous.  There is no one good.  No one understands God or his glory.  No one seeks the true God.  Everyone is condemned.  No one can say they deserve eternal and deserve to escape the wrath of God.  This means you!


The good news is the rest of Romans goes on to show the mercy, kindness and forgiveness of God towards all us undeserving sinners in Christ Jesus.  The universal condemnation moves towards a universal salvation for all who would believe and receive the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus.  It is refused to no one.


Lord Jesus Christ, help us to see our sinfulness that we might see the glory of your salvation for all mankind, in particularly for us.  Amen.