#DailyDevotion Do You Make Others Question Whether It’s Worth Serving The Lord Jesus Or Not?
Read Mal 3:6—4:6
Mal 3:13-18 “Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ (14) You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? (15) And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.'” (16) Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. (17) “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. (18) Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
There are those in Church and those who have been in Church, who like the Israelites around Malachi, don’t see any advantage or purpose in serving the Lord, trusting the Lord or suffering for His name’s sake. Like these untrusters in ancient Israel they say, “It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? (15) And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.” As Billy Joel sang, “Only the good die young.” And then he sung about breaking the Laws of the Lord because, well, what’s the use.
Jesus apparently doesn’t appreciate this line of thinking or speaking. It is speaking hard against the Lord and is therefore blasphemy. However, there are those trusters of the Lord Jesus who when they hear such people saying such perverse things, they speak together, edify one another in their faith and speak out against such defilers of God’s holy name.
Those who trust in the Lord Jesus and believe on Him despite the evidence to the contrary that He is on their side, He writes their names in the book of Life. Those who fear Jesus and esteem His Name are precious in His sight. They shall belong to Him and are His treasured possession. He spares such people on the Last Day. Though they may have sinned much and many a time, Jesus will overlook all that because they put their trust in Him and in His Name. They fear Him and trust in His promises. Verse 18 is most interesting because the distinction between the wicked and the righteous is not based on how well everyone is doing in being “good” or “bad.” It is based on those who despite their sins, who despite their evil circumstances, remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in Him, standing up for His name. Their faith in Jesus is their righteousness before the Father on Judgment Day not their outward works. Trusting Jesus IS serving Jesus.
Lord Jesus Christ, ever give us such faith in Your Name, that we may bear our crosses with patience and trust, believing you will call us to be Your Own Treasured Possession and grant us eternal life at the resurrection of the dead. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Jesus Will Put Dung On The Faces Of Those Who Pit Love Against Pure Doctrine
Read Mal 2:1—3:5
Mal 2:2-8 If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. (3) Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. (4) So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. (5) My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. (6) True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. (7) For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. (8) But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts,….
It is a popular thing these days to pit Love against Pure Doctrine. Those who do this are children of Satan. Nothing but the pure venom of hell is such talk. Love comes from pure doctrine/teaching. The Lord God of the Holy Scripture cares about pure doctrine. What does the Lord say in our passage today? How does He see pure and false doctrine? To teach false doctrine is to curse the name of the Lord but to teach true doctrine is to honor His name. Those who teach false doctrine are cursed by the Lord. Jesus rebuked the offspring of false teachers. Jesus spreads dung on the faces of those who say, “Thus says the Lord” and are teaching falsely in His name, the name of Love.
Those who teach purely in Jesus’ name fear the Lord. He causes others to repent of their sins and fear the Lord as well. What is the fear of the Lord? Pro 8:13 “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” To have pure doctrine is to walk with Jesus in peace and uprightness. The pastor who teaches purely guards knowledge and people should seek instruction from his mouth. The pastor who teaches purely is a messenger of the Lord of Hosts.
Now it is true that sometimes someone may have and teach pure doctrine and yet not have love. Such a one is a hypocrite. But no one may have the love of God and teach falsely for love flows from the Truth and not a lie. 1Jn 4:9-11 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (10) In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Lord Jesus Christ, so give us your Holy Spirit that we may always speak the truth in love and may your great love for us so move us to love our neighbors and enemies as you have loved your neighbor and enemies. May no false teaching pass our lips and may our lives demonstrate your great love for us and all people. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Do You Really Love And Fear The Lord Jesus? It Will Show In Your Offerings.
Read Mal 1:1–14
Mal 1:2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob.” 6-9 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ (7) By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. (8) When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. (9) And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts.
The Lord loved Jacob. He chose Jacob over Esau that we may learn the love of God in that in Jesus, He chose you. The Lord had blessed Jacob and called him Israel. He gave the Israelites a great land and they rebelled against Him. When the Lord brought Judah out of exile and rebuilt the temple, what did they do? How did they respond to the great love of the Lord towards them? Instead of in faith, giving the best of the flocks and fields, they like Cain give the Lord some of their flocks and fields, and it was the flocks which were diseased and lame and not the first-fruits. The book of Hebrews says Cain gave that way because he did not offer up his gift in faith. The Jews of Malachi’s day were acting like Cain. They were not offering up to the Lord their best but their worst because they did not believe in the Lord their God. Since they did not trust Him they did not love Him and they did not offer Him the best. The Lord’s example of what would the governor do if you offered him such rubbish is simply classic. If you offered the rulers of the world such things they would have you thrashed and imprisoned and probably have all your property confiscated.
And so the Lord Jesus Christ has shown His great love for you. You have found favor and grace with the Lord the Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice in His passion and death. He has called you out from the world through Holy Baptism, placed His name on you and has given you Christ’s righteousness purely as a gift. How have you responded in thanksgiving? Jesus has not prescribed like He did Israel in the Law of Moses certain gifts, offerings and sacrifices. Yet we are impelled by the Holy Spirit to give thanks and praise unto the Lord our God, Jesus Christ. We offer our thanks and praise with the wealth He has bestowed upon us. We give to the Lord Jesus through those whom He has appointed as His representatives. Who might that be? Pastors, the poor, childless widows, and those in need.
You may say, “O but Lord, I give all my old clothes to the pastor and his kids and to goodwill. When I get a good sale on meat, I take out all my old meat and give it to the pastor or the homeless shelter. After I pay all my bills I remember you and give some of what is left over.” While the prescriptions and precepts and details of the Law of Moses no longer apply to the Church, do you not think that the principles of His mind are the same? When we make such offerings, the question is are we acting like Able who gave the best and first-fruits of his flock because he trusted in the Lord or are we giving some of our crops like Cain because we really don’t trust Jesus.
The Father has given His only-begotten Son, Jesus, the first-fruits and best, for you, that you may have eternal life.
Father, grant us such faith in Jesus’ work for us that we offer to you proper thanks and praise. Amen.
#DailyDevotion O Lord If You Get Me Out Of This I Swear I’ll Never Do It Again!
Read Neh 9:22–38
Neh 9:30-33 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. (31) Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. (32) “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. (33) Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.
In today’s lesson, Nehemiah continues with the confession of sin and faith of the people of Israel. Throughout it we see in the history of Israel, how the Lord God was faithful to His people, keeping His covenant with them, but Israelites did not believe, trust or fear the Lord. The Israelites continued to rebel against the Lord of Hosts, attributing His goodness to foreign gods. So the Lord would hand them over to foreign people. They would cry as many do when they get into trouble, “O Lord, if you get me out of this mess, I swear I’ll never do it again.” And you know what the Lord did? He sent them saviors. You know what the Israelites did? They went back and did it again. The Lord eventually casts out the northern tribes of the land never to be seen or heard of again. The Jews we sent into exile and then brought back into the land never to fully possess it again, but for a brief time with the Maccabees. They would be ruled by the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans and wherever they were dispersed.
How have we as the true people of God, the Lord, acted having been circumcised of heart by the hand of God in the waters of Holy Baptism? How have we acted having received the new covenant with the body and blood of Jesus? Do we attribute all our goodness unto the Lord Jesus Christ? Do turn to created things as the source of our happiness and joy? We may not worship little statues but source of all good something other than the Lord Jesus Christ? People today, Christians, look to sex, alcohol, drugs, music, jobs, wealth, family, credit, Church, food, and a hosts of other created things, which in themselves are good when used properly, as they should look to God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We look to these created things which seem to do the job for a while, but they carry with them a price. Like the Israelites who served foreign gods ended up being oppressed and enslaved by the peoples of those gods, we who serve these created things as God will be enslaved and oppressed by these things. We lose the freedom won for us by Jesus’ sacrificial suffering and death. We lose His victory from the grave which is ours. God hands us over to these things so we may realize this and repent. This is seen most often in most addictions. Addictions are nothing more than idolatry and servitude to other gods, demons.
Then we cry out to God for help, “Oh Lord, if you get me out of this, I’ll never do this again!” Sound familiar? And the Lord rescues us. The question is now, will we return to serving these other gods or thank the Lord Jesus, trust in Him for ALL GOOD THINGS, and use the good things as He meant them to be used? Jesus can and has saved us from addiction to other gods. He can keep us from being enslaved again. Don’t give yourselves back into slavery i.e. addiction.
Lord Jesus Christ, for freedom’s sake you have freed us from sin, death and the power of the devil. Grant us your Spirit always, that we may always choose faith in you rather than created things. Always grant us repentance to turn back to you when we by weakness of our flesh turn to the world and preserve us in the true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Confessing The Lord Jesus Is The Creator Is To Confess Our Sinfulness And His Mercy
Read Neh 9:1–21
Neh 9:1-3 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. (2) And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. (3) And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God… Neh 9:6 “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you… Neh 9:17-19 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, …. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them… (19) you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go.
Having been returned to the land promised to their fathers by the Lord, their fathers having had lost it by their sins and rebellion against the Lord, the Jews assembled together, fasted in sackcloth with earth on their heads. They confessed their sins and their fathers’ sin. They listened to the Law of the Lord their God read to them and they praised the Lord who had brought them back to their land.
One of the ways they praised the Lord was they recognized He created the heavens, the host of heavens and the earth and all that is in them and preserves them even to this day. It kind of goes contrary to the way a lot of people think today. They do not recognize God nor do they recognize the Lord created them, their cosmos, everything in it and cares for them and preserves them. Yet the scriptures are clear. What we live in is not by chance. The first couple of chapters of the Bible tell us that the Lord God created everything. Psalm 148 sings about how and what God created. Isa 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Isa 42:5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: Isa 45:18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other. The New Testament also confesses this. Col 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Rev 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
To praise God the Lord is to acknowledge He made all things, us and preserves us to this day. If the Lord Jesus created us and all things and we believe this, this will affect what we think and how we order our days. On top of that we are told, “But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them…” The Lord Jesus still speaks this to you today, that you may confess your sins put your trust in Him.
Lord Jesus Christ, through you all that exist was created and preserved to this day. We your creation have rebelled against you. Remember your Word and be merciful and abounding in steadfast love towards us, the people made in your likeness and image. Amen.
#DailyDevotion The Joy Of Jesus Is Our Strength In This New Age
Neh 7:1–4; 8:1–18
Neh 8:8-10 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (9) And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. (10) Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
It was the beginning of the Israelite civil New Year when this all came to pass, i.e. the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra and the priest were reading the book of the Law, the Torah, most likely Exodus or Deuteronomy or it could have been the whole of the first five books of the Bible beginning with Genesis. We see in verse 8 that they not only read it but they also gave sermons on it as it says, “they gave the sense.”
As they read it and gave the sense of the Law the people wept. No doubt as in the time of Hezekiah and Josiah, they wept because they knew they had not been keeping the Law as the Lord had provided the Israelites through the prophet Moses. While normally this would be a good response of contrite hearts Nehemiah commands them not to weep, for it was the New Year, a day holy to the Lord.
No, instead of weeping they were to be rejoicing. The exile was over. The discipline the Lord had brought upon his people for turning away from Him was over. Their forefathers and their fathers had past away. They were a new generation who were taught in exile why they were in exile and were taught the ways of the Lord in Babylon. Now they were beginning to follow all the ways of the Lord beginning with a festival. Grieving was over. The joy of the Lord would be their strength and carry them through. They would celebrate with fat and sweet wine and be generous to all who were not ready for the Lord their God was a generous, merciful and kind God. They were called to be likewise as they celebrated the Feast of Booths in which they remembered their forefathers who lived in booths while they were in the wilderness.
Now on another Feast of Booths Jesus proclaimed, Joh 8:34-36 “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. (35) The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus during this feast had revealed he and the Father were One. He was the Son of God, the Messiah promised in the Book of the Law. All of us have been slaves to sin. We have not done what the Lord had called us to do nor could we. But Jesus came to set us free. He freed us by being lifted up on the tree of the cross. There as our atoning sacrifice we won for us freedom from slavery to sin, death and the power of the devil. Now he gives us his Holy Spirit that we may fear, love and trust in God above all things. Now we may begin to fulfill the Royal Law to love our neighbor as ourselves. We no longer need a special feast day to remember our traveling through the wilderness. Indeed, as long as we are in this world we are strangers here and are traveling through the wilderness of this world until Jesus returns and establishes his kingdom here on a new earth and heavens. The doors of his kingdom shall always be open then because there will no more threats from those who would cause us harm. There will be peace and joy in his kingdom even as now we can live his peace and his joy as our hearts have been stilled by his promise of his word.
Heavenly Father, grant us that we may live in the strength of the joy of Jesus who has stilled our hearts with his promise of peace won and the assurance of a new heavens and a new earth in his righteousness. Amen.
#DailyDevotion How Are You Treating Your Neighbor?
Read Neh 5:1–16; 6:1–9, 15–16
Neh 5:7-13 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them (8) and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. (9) So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?..(12) Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. (13) I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.
Exo 22:25-27 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. (26) If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, (27) for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
Lev 25:35-40 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. (36) Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you…(38) I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. (39) “If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: (40) he shall be with you as a hired servant and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee.
The Law forbad what the Jews who were returning to Judah were doing. Nehemiah called them to repentance. They were called to live compassionately with their brothers even as the Lord had been compassionate with them.
Now we too have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has had compassion on your freeing you from death, sin and the power of Satan. How then shall we treat the people around us? Aren’t we called to be Christ to our neighbor in their need?
Lord Jesus Christ, grant us such faith in what you have done for us that the life we live we live in You. Amen.
#DailyDevotion The Lord Uses Instruments To Fulfill His Will In Us.
Read Neh 4:7–23
Neh 4:15-20 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work…Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. (18) And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. (19) And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. (20) In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
A man in terrible straights prayed to the Lord day and night asking God to let him win the lottery. After months of praying this prayer, he heard a voice after his prayer. It said, “Could you at least work with me and buy a ticket?”
The Jews had a promise they would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. The word had gone out and it was up to them to actually get up and leave Babylon to go back to Jerusalem. The Lord protected them on their way back. When they got to Jerusalem they saw the state the Babylonians had left it after their siege 70 earlier. The Lord wasn’t going to just zapp the walls into being. He was going to use the Jews to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the temple.
With the Arabs and the Ammonites threatening the Jews, the Jewish builders were mighty afraid to continue the work. Nehemiah promised them, “Our God will fight for us.” It is true that at some times, the Lord worked immediately by sending His angels to destroy them. But throughout the history of Israel, the Lord strengthened the Israelites in battle, put their enemies into confusion by affecting their hearts and oftentimes had His angels participating in the battles. Our Lord is a God of means. He uses the things created to accomplish His goals. So the Jews worked while armed and had others standing guard.
As we go about our lives, the Lord has made numerous promises that apply to us. He promises to provide our daily bread. He never-the-less expects us to go about being productive with our hands. If you need a job, He expects you to hit the pavement, put in some applications and go to some interviews. When we do get a job, He expects us to do our best in doing it to His glory. So while the Lord Jesus can zapp stuff into being, He uses means to accomplish His will.
So too our salvation. Our Lord Jesus by His work on the cross won salvation for all mankind. He uses fallen, born again men to bring this message of salvation to all people. He uses men to preach and give this salvation to all people. He uses water and His Word to wash away our sins. He uses men to pronounce forgiveness. Jesus uses bread and wine to give us His body and blood so we can participate in His covenant.
Lord Jesus Christ, help us to recognize the means you use to bring us salvation that we may live our lives in faith. Amen.