#DailyDevotion Your Congregation Has Been Blessed By God
1 Corinthians 13may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4“I am always thanking God for you because of His grace which was given to you in Christ Jesus. 5For in Him you have been made rich in every way, in speech and knowledge 6of every kind, as the truth of Christ we spoke was confirmed in you.7And so you don’t lack any gift as you eagerly look for our Lord Jesus Christ to appear again.
Some see this opening greeting as a mere formality following the formula for letters of the day. I’m sure they are correct to a point. Paul is following a formula but there is no ‘mere’ about it. When Paul wishes that God the Father and our LORD Jesus Christ give you grace and peace, he really means it. He is indeed blessing those who read and those who hears these words with grace and peace. Grace, God good, undeserved favor he wants the Corinthians to receive. Peace, that wholeness and fullness of all the bounties the LORD provides to the earth and the stillness of mind that only comes from knowing Jesus.
Would that all pastors give thanks to God for the congregations put under their care. We should remember Paul mostly wrote letters or we only kept the letters to those who were mainly having some sort of problem. The Corinthians were so bad we have two quite lengthy ones. On top of that Clement of Rome sent a couple also, mostly covering the same issues. Clement could have just written go back and read Paul’s letters to you. Nevertheless Paul thanks God for them because of the grace given them in Christ Jesus. We should thank God for our congregations similarly.
Verses 5, 6, and 7 pretty much set up the rest of Paul’s letter to them. For he will be going over with them how they are acting as if God had not given them grace and peace or he had not made them rich in every way, in speech and knowledge or if they were lacking and gift from God.
But God had enriched the Corinthian congregation in speech and knowledge of every kind. By this he means pastors who had the word of God, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of every kind is true knowledge of God and his Christ, who they are, what they have done, what was and is their attitude towards them and the world. Simply put God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them because of his great love for the world.
Finally, he reminds them they don’t lack anything as they await Christ Jesus to return in glory, which a most important teaching. Jesus is coming back and when he does he is raising all the dead and giving eternal life to all who believed in him and eternal perdition to those who rejected him. As all this applies to the Corinthian congregations it applies to your congregation as well. You should believe it and live as if it were true, because it is.
Heavenly Father, grant us such faith that we believe you have bestowed upon us your grace and peace and have given our congregations every good gift that we need to live out our lives in you and in service to one another. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion All Our Righteousness Is As Filthy Rags
Isaiah 64 6We’ve all become like an unclean person, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags. All of us fade like a leaf, and our wrongs carry us away like the wind. 7There’s no one calling on Your name or rousing himself to take hold of You, since You have hidden Your face from us. You have handed us over to the tyranny of our wrongdoing. 8But now, LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay and You the Potter, and all of us are the work of Your hands. 9Don’t be too angry, LORD, and don’t remember wrong forever. Now please consider, we are all Your people.
Isaiah cries to the LORD and confesses his sin and the sin of the people to the LORD as he sees the coming destruction upon Israel at the hands of the Assyrians. We have all become like an unclean person and all our righteousness are like filthy rags. Not the most pleasant image. The were numerous things in the Torah that could make a person unclean. One would be a woman in her menstrual cycle. That would be the reference to “filthy rags.” Yes, I know, not the image you want in your mind. Yet if you looked at the deeds of the Israelites, you would see not much good among them. That is why the LORD is sending them into exile. Idol worship, sexual immorality, oppression of the poor, widow, orphan and stranger were the highlights of the LORD’s complaints against them. Looking at our own culture and day we may well wonder when the LORD is going to send the Assyrians to make short work of us. Should they or we have any good works, any righteousness we could point to in and of ourselves, perhaps it would be best to confess this with Isaiah who most certainly was a righteous man if there was one and leave up to Christ whether or not to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
The people of Israel were fading like a leaf. Indeed, all our sins make us less than ourselves, which is to be in the image and likeness to God. Their sins carried them away to parts of the Assyrian empire never to be seen or heard of again. Let us examine ourselves to enlighten any dark recesses of our hearts, minds and souls and expose them to the light of Christ that we may, through faith in Christ, we given the weight of eternal glory.
Isaiah’s complaint before the LORD confesses there is no one who calls upon the name of the LORD because the LORD had hidden himself from them. Indeed, when we turn our backs on the LORD and do what our sinful flesh wants to do, there is the danger the LORD will leave us to ourselves and punish us with letting us sin all the more. Isaiah says, “You have handed us over to the tyranny of our wrongdoing.” Addictions to sinful behavior are a manifestation of this handing over. We decide we know better than God and engage in sexual immorality, drunkenness, idolatry of wealth, you name it, some behavior outside the will of God and God lets us go and serve these false gods from whom we are wanting every good. We think they give us freedom and then they control every aspect of our lives.
In this passage is one of the few places the LORD is referred to as “Father.” He is turning to God not only as a master and lord, but as someone who would care for us. Fathers are to look after their children, protect them, teach them how to live, and love them. He is hoping our Father in heaven would discipline his people and bring them back. He’s hoping he would have mercy upon them. The image of the potter and clay he calls out so that the LORD would remember we are fragile people whom he has made. Our make up is weak. Isaiah appeals to the LORD not to remember our sins and wrongdoing but to recall that we are his people. With contrite hearts then let up appeal to our Father in heaven as Isaiah does our weakness and our sinfulness. Call him to remember he has called us to be his people through baptism into his Son Jesus Christ and ask him to give us greater faith that we may put off our sins and to live for him.
Merciful God and Father, we are sinful and unclean for we have not done what you have commanded us. For the sake of Jesus Christ forget our sins, cleanse us with your Holy Spirit and remember we are your people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion The LORD Did Descend But In Humility
Isaiah 64 I wish You would tear the heavens apart and come down. Your presence would shake the mountains 2as when fire burns up dry twigs and makes water boil. We want Your enemies to know Your name. Your presence makes the nations tremble 3when You do fearful things we don’t expect. Yes, if you would come down, Your presence would shake the mountains. 4No one has ever heard with his ears or seen with his eyes any god except You Who does things for those who look to Him with confidence. 5You encourage those who delight in doing right and remember You in Your ways. Though You were angry, we still sinned — . we’ve continued long in sins, and can we be saved?
Isaiah, the eighth century prophet during the time northern Israel was about to be devoured by the Assyrians for all their sinning and seeing the future makes this proclamation. He desires that the LORD would come down and make his presence known to all the people as he did on Mt. Sinai when the Israelites first crossed over the Red Sea. He thinks this would make the nations tremble and bring about the repentance of Israel. He is right that if the LORD did this the people would tremble and the nations would fear.
However, he is wrong if he thinks this would bring about the repentance and return to the LORD his God. The Israelites saw the plagues of Egypt. The crossed through the Red Sea on dry land with the waters held up like a wall on either side of them. They the LORD in the pillar of fire by day night and cloud by day. The saw the LORD come down upon Mt. Sinai with fire, smoke, the trumpet blaring and heard the voice of the Almighty giving them the commandments. As soon as Moses went up the mountain they broke the commandments they heard and worshipped the golden calf. Even throughout the wilderness travels and seeing the might of the LORD they still rebelled against the LORD time and again. Shows of might would not covert the minds of the wicked.
Yet there were those who still looked to God with confidence. There were those who delighted in doing right and remembering the LORD in all his ways. They were given confidence by the LORD hopeful word given to Isaiah. Even they still sinned and continued in sins. Isaiah askes, “Can we be saved?”
Well the LORD did come down but not by fire and might but with the praise of the angels to lonely shepherds in a field outside of Bethlehem. He came down lowly and humble as an infant. He came to his people in the humility of sinful flesh and welcomed those who sinned against him. He came to them on a hill outside of Jerusalem, was lifted up upon the cross in his shame and died on a cross. In his humility and gentleness he saved his people from their sins. Not only did he save his people but he save all humanity, every person from their sins, guilt and death. He calls out in his name of Jesus to turn from our sins and to trust his sacrifice on the cross for our redemption. It is in this sacrifice the nations tremble at their sins, repent and return to the LORD their Maker and rejoice in Jesus Christ, the LORD and Savior.
Merciful God and Father, you did not come down in righteous anger to convert the nations but sent your son Jesus Christ humbly to achieve our salvation. When he return in glory and might may we be found having faith in him and enter into his glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Whatever You Do To Jesus’ Pastors That You Do To Him
Matt. 2537“Then the righteous will ask Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give you a drink?…39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You? 40“And the King will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for one of My brothers here, however humble, you did for Me. 41“Then He will say to those at His left, ‘Go away from Me, you cursed ones, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…44“Then they, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t help You?’ 45Then He will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you didn’t do for one of these, however humble, you didn’t do for Me.’ 46Then these will go away to everlasting punishment, but the righteous to everlasting life.”
Oftentimes we read things in Scripture that are descriptive as causative when they are in fact just descriptive. Such is the case in this parable of judgment. We read it and skip the first verses of this parable and go straight to verse thirty-five. They want to make the list of things the sheep and goats did “for one of My brothers” as causative for judgments rather descriptive. Like the previous parable of the talents, where it is not the amount made that is determinative of the judgment but the attitude and belief towards the master that counted, it is not the works themselves towards the brothers that matters but rather why the works were done or not done in the first place.
The brothers of Jesus in this parable are the apostles and everyone who is called into the office of the Holy Ministry i.e. pastors, evangelists and missionaries. True, Jesus does want us to treat everyone well. True, in a wide sense all of Jesus’ disciples are his brothers (but elsewhere in Matthew he would say brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, i.e. the family of God). But Jesus is not pointing to everyone or ever disciple in this parable, i.e. look to your left and your right. He’s pointing to these (i.e. those he called into the office of the ministry).
Throughout history, while many Christians are indeed imprisoned, abused and killed, the focal point is the pastor (strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter). They more often than not are the targets hoping to get the followers to stop following Jesus. They are hungry, naked, a stranger, thirsty, and imprisoned for the sake of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. How we treat them Jesus says here is how we treat him. Just to make it clearer, the goats to whom Jesus accuses of never doing these acts of mercy cannot be said to never had fed the poor, clothed the naked, visited them in prison or welcomed someone into their home. As Jesus said in John 13, 20“I tell you the truth, if you receive anyone I send, you receive Me, and if you receive Me, you receive Him Who sent Me.” Paul says in Romans 10, 15“How can men preach if they’re not sent?” What you think of Jesus is what you think of those he sent. How you treat them is exactly how you would treat Jesus if he were before. Those who have faith in Jesus will treat his pastors well and those who don’t will abuse them. If you don’t have faith in Jesus you will tormented in a place made to torment angels. So trust in Jesus and don’t go to that place.
Gracious and merciful Father, grant us faith in Christ Jesus so we can see in those you send to us, to give us the good news, his image and likeness that we may treat them as we would so treat you and then receive our LORD Jesus Christ’s commendation at the judgment. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Are You Going To Inherit The Kingdom?
Matthew 2531“When the Son of man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His throne of glory. 32And all nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and He will have the sheep stand at His right but the goats at His left. 34“Then the King will say to those at His right, ‘Come, you whom My Father blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the time the world was made.’”
First who is this Son of Man? For that we need to go to Daniel chapter 7, 13“In the visions during the night I saw One coming with the clouds of the heavens like the Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14And He was given glory, power to rule, and a kingdom, so that all peoples, nations, and those of every language should serve Him. His authority is everlasting and will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.” What is strange is that throughout much of the Gospels, when Jesus speaks of the Son of Man, he is suffering, which we don’t see in this passage from Daniel. On the other hand we finally do see this depiction of the Son of Man from Daniel now here in chapter 25.
Now Jesus certainly is at the right hand of God, the Ancient of Days, ruling even now as he waits for everything to be placed under his feet. But now we jump to the Last Day when we see everything and everyone placed under his feet. The Son of Man is coming on a day appointed by the Father to be the judge of the living and the dead. As in chapter thirteen with the parable of the weeds and the wheat, the angels come with him to root out all those who are wicked upon the earth. Also we see this in 2 Thess. “,when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels Sin a blaze of fire, to take vengeance on those who don’t know God and on those who will not obey the good news of our Lord Jesus.”
Now on this day, Jesus shall gather all the living and the dead before him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The basis upon which he separates him is told us here, “Come, you whom My Father blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the time the world was made.” The Father has chosen them from the time the world was made. It is a St. Paul says in Eph. 1, “Before He made the world, He Who loved us 5 appointed us to be made His sons by Jesus Christ. In Him He chose us to be holy and blameless before Him…” It is God’s choice of us in Christ Jesus that makes us one of the blessed ones.
But how do you know if you are one of these blessed ones? He also calls us to inherit the kingdom which makes us heirs. Where have we been made heirs? St. Paul also says in Gal. 3, 26 “You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 because all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ…29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants and heirs of the blessing God promised.” If you have been baptized into Christ then you can trust his promise that you have been made God’s child and an heir of the kingdom. You have been made his child through faith in Christ Jesus and his promise.
Heavenly Father, you have called us to be your heirs through faith and baptism into Christ Jesus so we may inherit the kingdom you have prepared for us. Always give us this faith so we may at Jesus’ revelation enter the kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Everything Will Be Put Under Jesus’ Feet
1 Cor. 1524Then the end will come when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has put an end to every other government, authority, and power, 25since He must rule as King until He puts all enemies under His feet. 26The last enemy He will get rid of is death. 27You see, He puts everything under His feet. When He says “everything is put under Him,” this clearly doesn’t include Him Who puts everything under Him. 28But when everything has been put under Him, then the Son also will put Himself under Him Who put everything under the Son so that God will be everything in everything.
When Jesus ascended into heaven to the right hand of God he began his rule as the new David who would forever rule as the LORD had promised David that his descendent would rule forever. Right now the Father is in the process of putting everything under his feet. When he returns in glory and he raises the dead then what is described in these verses will come to pass.
At that time, Jesus will “put to end to every other government, authority, and power…” For all powers on earth, in heaven above and under the earth must become subject to him. As such they must be taken out. This is what it means in Revelation when it says, “And there was no longer any sea.”(Rev. 21:1) So no more political parties, no more presidents or kings, no more legislatures or judges, there will on be Jesus. All spiritual powers will be subject to Jesus as well.
The last enemy to be gotten rid of is death. For having raised the dead and the judgment there is no more need for that. Everyone will be eternally set in whatever fate they had sealed for themselves. Those who trusted in Christ will live eternally with Christ in the new heavens and new earth. They will no longer sin so there is no more need for death. Those who did not trust in Jesus will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, where they will be tormented forever with the fallen angels. Revelation 20 tells us, “14Then death and the grave were thrown into the fiery lake. The fiery lake is the second death.” Such is the fate of the last enemy of God’s people.
When all this is done everything is put under his feet. But as Paul reminds us, this does not mean the Father, who had put everything under Jesus’ feet. Jesus hands everything under the Father. Jesus, whom the Father put everything, will subject himself to the Father who put everything under him. Jesus while being eternally the Son of God and equal to the Father according to his divinity, was made a little lower than God as he humbled himself to become one of us, part of creation. He does what Adam did not do in our place subjecting himself to the Father. Having submitted to the Father himself and everything, everything comes back to a full circle and God is everything in everything. Jesus reigns as the Son of God and the Son of Man. We who have put our trust in him and having been renewed in his image and likeness are raised to live and reign with Christ and in Christ. This is our hope as Christians.
Heavenly Father, on the day of Christ’s revelation to the world and the living and the dead are judged, grant that we may be found with Christ’s life in us so we may be raised to eternal life and live and reign with him in the new heavens and new earth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Jesus’ Resurrection Raises Everyone From The Dead
1 Corinthians 1520But now Christ did rise from the dead, the first in the harvest of those who are sleeping in their graves. 21Since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But everyone in his own group: first Christ, then, when He comes, those who belong to Christ.
In the previous verses Paul was arguing what it meant if there wasn’t an actual resurrection of the body to eternal life. Basically, if there is no resurrection of the body of Christians then Christ isn’t raised from the dead and we’re pretty stupid for being Christians if there is a resurrection of the body on the last day. If we’re not raised bodily from our graves, then Christ did not rise from the dead and we are still dead in our sins. With that Paul boldly proclaims that Christ did rise from the dead. That is Christ is the first person to rise from the dead in a new imperishable, glorious, powerful, immortal body. Others have been raised from the dead, the widows son in Elijah’s day, Jesus raised another widow’s son and he raised Lazarus but these were raised as mortals that would die again one day. If Jesus is the first then there’s going to be a second. That second is all humanity and the kosmos.
Through Adam the first man came death into the world. He sinned against his maker, the LORD, by not trusting him and eating the forbidden fruit. On that day he died and because he was dead he spread his death to all his offspring. Everyone is conceived and born dead in Adam. So in Adam all die for we are spiritually dead and we follow him in his sin which eventually brings about our bodily death. Because of Adam’s sin all creation was cursed and became like its lord.
Jesus, born of woman (Mary) and not of man (Adam), was not conceived and born dead as he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was living and is Life. Unlike Adam he did trust his Father in heaven and obeyed him in everything having been tempted by the devil in every way just like us. His death on the cross and his burial took the death of Adam with him and buried it in the grave. Jesus rose from the dead though. Jesus was raised bodily with an immortal, imperishable, glorious, powerful body. As all creation was cursed through Adam now it is redeemed and renewed in Jesus.
Because Jesus is risen from dead all humanity is going to raised on the Last Day. However as Paul states, everything in its own order will be raised. When Jesus returns first the dead in Christ who preceded us will rise immortal bodily, then we who trust in Christ will be changed in the twinkling of an eye with new immortal bodies. Then all the dead who are not in Christ are raised for their bodies too were redeemed though they do not have the life of Christ in them. They are cast into the Lake of Fire to be tormented with Satan and all his angels. Finally the kosmos is resurrected as the current one is under the curse, it too is redeemed and so we have a new heavens and new earth being effected by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
To be resurrected bodily into a resurrected world is the Christian hope. We don’t hope to be heaven with God for all eternity as spirits. We hope that God comes down to be with us in our bodies in the new world he creates. We will see Jesus as he is and be like him. God makes his dwelling among men.
Merciful Father, grant us faith in Christ that we may be raised bodily to immortal life on the day of Christ Jesus’ return and live with him in his eternal kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Jesus Is The LORD, God, Shepherd & New David The Father Has Raised Up
Ezekiel 3420So the Lord GOD says this: Look! I, even I, will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21You with your sides and shoulders push away all the weak animals and gore them with your horns until you have scattered them far and wide. 22Therefore I will rescue My flock so that they will no more be a prey, and I will judge between one sheep and another. 23“I will raise up one Shepherd over them, My Servant David, Who will feed them. He will feed them and be their Shepherd. 24I the LORD will be their God, and My Servant David will be the Ruler among them. I the LORD say so.
Verse 20 here follows from verse 19, “I will destroy the fat and strong ones feeding them with justice.” There comes a day of judgment. Judgment had come upon Judah and her rulers, elders, prophets and priests who are these fat sheep and judgment with a positive aspect upon the lean and weak people who have suffered at the hands of these people. The LORD had brought upon those who should have been shepherding the LORD’s people in righteousness and instead were bringing idolatry, sexual immorality, theft and murder to enrich themselves at the expense of others at the hands of the Babylonians who killed them, stripped them naked and brought the survivors to Babylon to die there and not in the Promised Land.
Jesus had brought up similar charges against the rulers of Judea in his day. They had become hypocrites without mercy and love towards the people they were to be helping and teaching. They became idolaters of their traditions, power and wealth. The LORD would bring upon them the Romans to destroy those who refused to listen and believe in him.
As the LORD would be the Shepherd of his people in the Last Days, all those who would put their faith in him, so too the LORD himself would raise up one Shepherd to be over the people, his Servant David. Indeed, as the LORD would only have one Shepherd over his people, he would become man and be that David as he becomes one of David’s descendents to be the New David, the shoot and branch of Jesse.
Jesus is that LORD and that Servant Shepherd David. He has come and been raised up by the Father to feed and take care of the people of God. Jesus is the one who feeds in the pastures of his Word and the Sacrament. Jesus is the one who brings us to drink of the still waters of the Holy Spirit whom he gives to us in Baptism and the preaching and teaching of his Word. Jesus is the LORD their God and David to all whom the Father has chosen from the foundation of the world.
On the day of his revelation, he will not send the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Romans or even his own people to bring judgment upon the people of the world, who reject him and instead trust in wealth and power, but his heavenly angels to kill and root out of this world all who are wicked and evil. He will gather us into his kingdom and we will feasts with him at his table and reign with him forever.
Heavenly Father, as you have called us to have faith in your Son Jesus Christ, grant us your Holy Spirit that we may always and only trust in him, so we have mercy, kindness and love upon all whom we meet, especially the downtrodden of the world as he has had for us calling us into his kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.