Lent Day 15

#DailyDevotion The One Thing That Gets You In Trouble With God

Lent Day 15

Mark 8:34 And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them,  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.


Deny yourself. Take up your cross. Lose your life. Not something you normally hear from the world unless it is self serving. What is Jesus talking about? Well I think you need to go up to his prophesy of him suffering, being rejected, and killed. Why is Jesus going to go through that? For some self serving goal? No. Jesus did this for you, for your salvation, because he loves you.


We are joined to Jesus by faith in baptism. We are called to suffer with him, to participate in his sufferings. So if we are going to deny ourselves it is for the benefit of our neighbor. Now one of the biggest ways we can deny ourselves and take up a cross is in the same manner of Jesus. We are called to forgive the sins of those who sin against. We are called to let it go and let people live. Christians are not called to hold grudges. Indeed if you are holding a grudge you are in danger of committing a graver sin than any murder, theft or adultery. You are holding God in contempt! You don’t believe God has forgiven you in Christ Jesus.

Now in a proper application of law and gospel you might not necessarily tell someone you forgive them if they are not sorry, if they don’t confess their fault to you. But in your heart you are called to pray with Jesus on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” While we were still weak, sinners and enemies of God, God forgave us. If we have this faith, then this faith is going to act in kind towards our enemies or loved ones who have sinned against us.


So our cross is to die to call in our debtors and have them make good. We bear our cross when cancel the debt of sin of those who sin against us. We send their sins away from us. We let the sin go along with the rights, privileges and benefits of being unforgiving. Not forgiving others is the one thing that can get us in Dutch with God. Jesus certainly says, Mat 6:15 “but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” He also says, Mat 18:35  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you [throw you into the lake of fire], if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”


If you will not forgive those who sin against you, you are not denying yourself. To not forgive is to not take up your cross. To hold a grudge is to save your life only to lose it, but to forgive others from the heart to lose your life for Christ’s sake and the gospel. Having trouble forgiving people? Go to confession, receive absolution and believe the word of forgiveness there. Then sincerely pray for those who sin against you that our Father will not hold these sins against you against them but that he would forgive them.


Dear Jesus, grant us such faith in your innocent, suffering and death for our sakes that we may follow you, take up our cross and forgive those who sin against us. In your precious name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 14

#DailyDevotion Jesus Isn’t Your Typical Messiah. But He’s The Messiah We Need.

Lent Day 14

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.


Peter confesses on behalf of the rest of the disciples that Jesus is the Christ. But they did not realize what it meant to be the Christ. So, Jesus starts explaining to them what that means. The Christ has to suffer, be killed and rise on the third day. Well that sounded pretty crazy to Peter. He was having nothing of it. What kind of messiah does that? It didn’t sound like any messiah he was looking for. Indeed, like Peter, we too probably aren’t looking for a messiah like Jesus. We’re looking for anything but Jesus: a politician with all the answers, Hare Krisna, or some other religious/political leader.


But Jesus is the only Messiah or Christ the Father has sent us. But why must he undergo the things he talks about? Well Jesus must fulfill all the prophecies he made about himself throughout the history of man and particularly the Israelite people.


In Genesis we are told the serpent would strike his heel. Isaac is a type of son-sacrifice but Jesus is the Lamb the Lord provided. David throughout the psalms, particularly 22 talks about his suffering, death and resurrection as well as Psalm 16 which says his Holy One would not see corruption. Well you’re not going be dead  much longer than the third day and not start to decay. Isaiah’s servant songs in particular chapter 53 describe the suffering the Messiah would have to undergo to save Israel and the whole world.


Now Jesus himself prophesies what will be waiting for him as he comes the mount of transfiguration. He will pick up this theme in his teaching in Mark until he comes to his death on the cross outside of Jerusalem. No one likes to hear of it. Suffering in our own lives is something we try to escape. We tell ourselves and others, “Certainly God wouldn’t want us to suffer.” Yet suffer is what Christ Jesus must do.  And there is the resurrection. The disciples don’t seem to comforted by it.. But it seems to be missing often in our own speech. When someone dies or we look to death and we talk about being in heaven with God and no longer experiencing pain. For Christians this is true. I can’t even imagine the suffering one who is not a Christian undergoes after death, but from the biblical witness it isn’t pretty. But the Christians main hope is the resurrection.


Like our Lord Jesus Christ, we look to the day that we are resurrected like Jesus. Our hope is our bodies which have undergone decay and corruption, even while we are living, shall be made incorruptible like our Lord Jesus. Our hope is in the day when our spirits are reunited with our glorified bodies like our Lord’s glorified body never to see corruption again. And it will be heaven on earth because we shall see God and Christ with our own eyes, in our own flesh in the new earth that he has promised.


Heavenly Father, help us to realize what it means for Jesus to be the Christ, that we may give him the glory due him for the cross and grant us faith in his innocent, suffering and death for our sakes that we may obtain the resurrection to glory even as he was raised from the dead on the third day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 13

#DailyDevotion What You Don’t Want To Hear About Yourself But It Was True.

Lent Day 13

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.


Weak! Sinners! Enemies of God! That is how God describes us before Jesus’ resurrection. Indeed, that is our state of being before receiving faith from God. It probably isn’t how we would describe ourselves to anyone. There may be even a hosts of people who would never describe you as such. But that is how God found you.


Weak. You were unable to resist sin. Oh you may not have outwardly committed that sin. After all, you probably wouldn’t get away with it. Perhaps the retaliation from others wouldn’t be worthy it. You don’t want people thinking you’re a bad person. You don’t want to think you’re a bad person.  But think about and plan that sin, you most certainly did. You couldn’t help yourself. You were weak. Shoot, even born again Christians with the Holy Spirit are still weak in the flesh at times. You didn’t even have that working for you.


You were weak, because you were a sinner. You’re a sinner because you were sinful. That is the natural state of the heart. Jesus tells us, Mar 7:21-23 “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  (22)  coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  (23)  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Jesus also says, Joh 3:19 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” No, you don’t want to think about yourself this way but it is a true confession of the state of your soul before faith.


You were an enemy of God. Now that’s why you’re sinful in the first place. In Adam you rebelled against God. Eve may have been deceived, but Adam knew what he was doing. It was an outright rebellion, just like Satan. You were in Adam. You rebelled in and with Adam on that day. Now you are just carrying out that life of death having been made manifest in the world. Your life is one in rebellion against the Creator who made you. This is how God found you.


The good news is these all can be past tense for you as it was for the Romans Paul was writing. Christ Jesus died for you someone who was weak. Not particularly normal in Roman times much less today. The good news is God sent his son Christ Jesus into the world to die for sinners. He shed his blood so you may be justified before God Almighty on the Day of Judgment. Jesus saved you from God’s wrath. More than that! Jesus reconciled you, his enemies to his Father in heaven by his death. Jesus has saved you by his life. This is cause for great rejoicing in God through Jesus Christ. Jesus has caused and affected our reconciliation with God. All that is necessary to be one with the Father, Jesus has brought about for you freely by his innocent, suffering and death and has brought you into his light by his life.


Heavenly Father, though we by no means deserve any good from you because of our thoughts, words and deeds, grant faith in your great gift of reconciliation in Christ that we are made strong, saints and your children by such faith. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 12

#DailyDevotions Freak Your Friends Out. Rejoice In Sufferings Like A Christian

Lent Day 12

Romans 5: 3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.


Now I can think of no statement from scripture that goes against the modern western thinking than this verse. The mantra of today is, “Well you wouldn’t want them to suffer, would you?” But this is the Christian mindset. We are to rejoice in sufferings. Well that’s crazy you say. Well they said Paul’s preaching was turning the world upside down. But perhaps it’s the world that is upside down in its thinking. Not wanting to suffer has brought us abortion, euthanasia and a hosts of other evils. You might even say seeking to escape suffering is one of the root evils. Jesus says if we don’t pick up our cross and follow him we cannot be his disciples.


We rejoice in sufferings because of what the Lord is working there in our life for one. St. Paul tells us, it produces endurance, character and a hope that will not disappoint us. It sounds important. Yet we hear impious Christians saying, “If God is going to treat me like this…or I can’t believe God would allow xyz to happen to….” Have they not read the scriptures? Have their pastors not told them to expect suffering because you are a Christian?


In 2 Cor. 1:4ff Paul reminds us that our sufferings are participating in the suffering of Christ that we may comfort those who suffer with the comfort we ourselves have received. Christ has taken our illness, sufferings, guilt, and shame upon himself on the cross. But he does not leave them there. He gives them back to us that we may participate in the sufferings so we may also participate in his glory. As the song says, “Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, By the Cross are sanctified; Peace is there that knows no measure, Joys that thro’ all times abide.”


Hebrews reminds us God disciplines those he loves. If he did not discipline us we would be illegitimate children. Yet through this suffering, this discipline we will reap a harvest of righteousness.

Now am I saying we should never take any pain medication to ease human suffering? No.  What I am saying is when we are feeling pain, suffering and sorrow, are we going to accept it from God’s hand or are we going to commit some sin in escaping it? We should instead remember, Lam 3:25-26  The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  (26)  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.


Heavenly Father, as we experience suffering in our lives, grant us the faith to rejoice in it, remembering your promises as we are found worthy to suffer with Christ that may participate in his glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 11

#DailyDevotion Looking For Peace? We Have It In Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lent Day 11

Romans 5: 1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Not guilty! That is the verdict that has been pronounced upon everyone who trust in Christ Jesus. You are righteous, rather the righteousness of God is yours by faith in Jesus. This is the message of Christianity. This is unbelievable good news because you know if you examine yourself, particularly under the law of God that you are guilty as all get out. Yet our Heavenly Father loves mankind. He does not seek to judge us and condemn us but sought and provided a way to escape the judgment of guilty and all that goes with that.


Paul writes, 2Co 5:19 “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” God has reconciled himself to you in Christ. He no longer counts your trespasses against you. This is the message that faith believes. The Lord himself has prepared a sacrifice for sins that we might escape eternal death and He is the sacrifice. God’s anger and wrath has been assuaged. God is at peace with you.


By this faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We can stand before God with a clear conscience. This is assured us in our baptism (1 Pet. 3:21ff). For every sin, every trespass and anything that could have accused us before God at the judgment seat has been laid on the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. As we stand by faith before the judgment seat of God, we stand in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The verdict is not guilty.


This peace with beyond all understanding but this peace is ours. With joy and boldness we can enter the throne room of the Father of lights and make our requests known, trusting that our Father hears our prayers, has sent the answer to them before we even opened our mouths and will answer them in the way that is best for us and the spreading of the good news. We need not be anxious God is not pleased with us and therefore will not hear us. God is pleased with us because of our faith in Jesus. Jesus is what makes us pleasing to God and for his sake he hears and answers our prayers. Trusting this we need not fear or be anxious. For the Father himself loves us and has shown us this love in Jesus.


Heavenly Father, may the peace which is ours by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ have governance over all our thinking, speaking and acting on this day that we may share this peace with others and they too may enter into your peace. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 10

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is YHWH, Your Help And Shield

Lent Day 10

Psalm 115:11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.


Who is this LORD we are called to fear and trust? The New Testament tells us. Jesus is the Lord. It is our confession of faith. In the Old Testament when you see LORD in all caps, that is the divine name of Israel’s God YHWH. In the New Testament when we call Jesus Lord it is not just referring to his lordship, his rule over all, but rather confessing only that which can be done through faith, Jesus is YHWH. It would be a fine thing if we had a bible which either replaced LORD with Jesus in the Old Testament or when referring to Jesus as LORD in the New to capitalize Lord as in the Old.


Now what does it mean to fear the Lord? Just this to hate evil. If you do not hate evil but rather run to it, you do not fear the Lord. If the commandments of God are not your joy, you do not fear the Lord. If evil disgust you however, the fear of the Lord is in you.


Now the corollary to hating evil, i.e. fearing the Lord, is to trust in him. Really, trusting Jesus is all God has ever wanted of us. God wants to us to look to Jesus in every time of need. We should look to Jesus for every good. He has placed Jesus before us as our help when temptations and trials come upon us. Jesus has conquered every trial in tribulation for us in the wilderness, through his life, and on the cross. It is Jesus who we should look to, to conquer our temptations and our fears. He will help you. Jesus is also our shield from all evils. Only that which is good for our soul, which will train our faith will ever come near us. But Jesus keeps all other evil things at bay so evil may not overcome us.


Jesus always remembers us. He is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. Just what is he asking for? First and foremost that we come to faith and that we persevere in the faith. He prays for our daily bread, that all our needs are met for the day. Jesus puts forth his blood as the atoning sacrifice for our sins to the Father and stands before him as our advocate when we fall into sin so we may receive the forgiveness of sins. Jesus prays for our protection from evil and trials and our endurance when the discipline of the Father comes upon us to train us in faith. At the right hand of God Jesus blesses us with all things that are good for us.


For this, we are to bless the Lord at all times. How do we bless the Lord? The liturgy teaches us: Bless we the Lord. Thanks be to God! We bless Jesus by giving him thanks and praise for all things. In everything give thanks. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Everything? Everything. Everything because we know, we have his promise that God works all things out for good for those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose. If we are baptized, we have been called. We have been given the Holy Spirit that we may love God  and fear and trust Jesus.

Lord Jesus Christ, we bless you and give thanks to you are all things good and bad because we have your promise of your help and shield in all circumstances. Continually bless us that we may persevere in the faith unto life everlasting. In your precious name we pray. Amen.

2nd Sunday In Lent

#DailyDevotion Walking Before The Lord Is Easier And Harder Than You Thought

2nd Sunday in Lent

Gen. 17:1When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”


It is interesting that this Sunday we go back in time five chapters. Here the Lord appears before Abram and identifies himself with the name God Almighty. Yet the promises, the convenient, the promise the Lord makes with Abram will require his almighty power. He is promising the make this man mostly dead and his wife whose womb has been dead for quite some time bear a child.


Now the premise upon which the Lord makes this covenant with Abram is that he walk before the Lord and be blameless. Now nothing in Abram’s life would indicate anything like moral perfection. He is known to fear men and to be deceitful at times. This will not change. So what does the Lord mean by this? It is much the same as our Lord Jesus Christ has told us himself as his holy people, ““Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, NASB) and Peter”because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”” (1 Peter 1:16, NASB) . You may read this and think to yourself, “This is impossible!”


Indeed, it does seem impossible. But, “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6, NASB)  To trust the Lord’s words is to walk before the Lord to be blameless. We walk in the faith that for the sake of Christ our sins are forgiven and our iniquities are removed from us. Abram walked in the same faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NASB)

Now the fact that it is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness before God does not preclude our and Abram’s desire to do good and be morally upright. Faith indeed upholds the law and loves the law. But our standing before the Lord is always by faith in Jesus and his promises. It is through our faith, in believing the good news that God justifies the ungodly for the sake of Jesus, that we walk according to the Spirit. Faith produces good works and mortifies the passions of the fallen flesh.


Now that Abram believes the Lord, the Lord makes his covenant with him to multiply him and make him the father of many nations. He will fulfill that literally and spiritually. Literally in that many of his children and grandchildren will become nations in that area of the world. Spiritually, through faith in Christ, the nations of the world are joined to him and become his children in Christ Jesus through baptism.


Heavenly Father, grant us such faith in your promises that we may walk before you blameless in the faith of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 9

#DailyDevotion The Kingdom Of God Is At Hand Is The Good News

Lent Day 9

Mark 1: 15and saying,  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”


Jesus is the fulfillment of history. Everything that had been happening in time the Lord had been using to bring about this time in history when the Lord would become man for mankind’s salvation. Whether it be the placement of the Jewish people on the land bridge, the spread of Greek as a common language through the conquest of Alexander the Great or the safe travel routes of the Romans through their conquest, and many others, all of history has as its pinnacle the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul reminds us “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom 5:6). In Eph. 1:9,10 that Christ came in the fullness of time according to the plan of God. In 1 Tim. 2:5,6 this testimony concerning Jesus being the ransom for all and the mediator between God and man is now given at the proper time.


All these things are summed up in Jesus’ word, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus is the kingdom. His ransom for the world is the kingdom manifest. His shedding of blood as the atoning sacrifice for sin has wrought the kingdom of God in the world. Wherever the testimony about Jesus occurs is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit advances God’s kingdom in that place.


If this is true, and it is, then the message of Jesus “repent and believe the good news.” We are called to repent of our sins. Repent of our past and present sins and live a life of repentance because the flesh is weak. Repent is to be horrified by our sins. To be of a contrite spirit and a broken heart because we have disobeyed the law of God written on our hearts is to repent. We must hate our sins and our sinfulness. In as much as the Spirit gives us grace, to quit repeating those sins and to make amends, to repair the damage our sins have caused.


This repentance is wrought by the good news which we are invited to believe.  What is that good news? The kingdom of God is at hand! The Lord God has won salvation for us in Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of sins is offered to all as a free gift. The Lord himself has provided the atoning sacrifice which has reconciled you to God. Indeed the free gift of salvation was won for the whole world and you are of this world. Everything that has stood in the way of you and your Father in heaven Jesus has removed by his life, death and resurrection. Your transgressions are no longer counted against you.


Heavenly Father, at the right time you sent your son Jesus Christ into the world to reconciled it to yourself. May this message advance the kingdom of God in our hearts that we may truly repent of our sins and live in your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.