#DailyDevotion You Might Need A New Heart With New Desires


#DailyDevotion You Might Need A New Heart With New Desires

Introit (Ps. 37:5–7; antiphon: Ps. 37:4)

Delight yourself | in the Lord,*

and he will give you the desires | of your heart.

Commit your way | to the Lord;*

trust in him, and | he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness | as the light,*

and your justice as the | noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently | for him;*

fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil de- | vices!

 

This is the introit for this Sunday. I think it has some wonderful things about prayer that we often forget about. So often what we call our prayers are nothing more than wishes. Sometimes they are more like the ranting of a four year old in the candy or toy isle because we are not getting what we want, how we want it, when we want it etc.. But pastor it says right there, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

 

Indeed it does! So what part don’t you get. Look where it starts: Delight yourself in the Lord. Ah there’s the catch isn’t it. The Lord isn’t a genie or a wishing well. You need to delight yourself in the Lord first. Well that’s another whole barrel of monkeys to deal with.

 

Well what does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord. Well first you need to be able to take delight in the Lord. To delight in the Lord is to know the Lord. Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” And again, “No one comes to me unless the Father draws him.” To know the Lord is to be drawn by the Father to Jesus. It is to know the Father and his will through Jesus. This is going to require a different mind, eyes, ears, affections, heart and desires.

 

This is something that God wants to give to you. Peter tells us, “God desires all men to repent and to believe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We need to be repentant. We need to recognize our sinfulness as shown by the Law of God, confess our sins, hate them and trust the promise of God that Jesus has won favor for us with God. Having believed God has committed his Son for our salvation, we commit our ways to the Lord. We have gotten a new heart, with new desires. When we are delighting in the Lord and his ways we aren’t operating with our own selfish desires. James says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Selfish, self-centered prayers based on perverse passions will not be answered. They’re not really prayers. John tells us, “If we ask anything according to his will, he will answer us.” To know God’s will, we have to read the Scriptures-correctly. God will reveal his will to you there if come humbly before him. So what has God promised? Pray that. Then trust he has heard your prayer. For Christ’s sake he will act. You may have to wait. The Lord may have to coordinate your prayers with the prayers of others and even his overall plan of salvation of the world. Wait patiently. Don’t fret. Your righteousness will shine. His justice will be done. Be of good courage. In Christ Jesus, God is on your side.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us a new heart that we may delight in you and in your ways that we may pray rightly, with faith, unselfish prayer according to your will so we may receive the desires of our new hearts in Christ Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Not Getting What You Want From God?


#DailyDevotion Not Getting What You Want From God?

Mark 9:25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it,  “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them,  “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

 

Well Jesus, despite the father’s lack of faith, out of mercy, commands the demon to leave the boy and it comes out with a shriek. You might remember the disciples couldn’t do it. Jesus had given them authority to cast demons out, heal the sick, and even raise the dead. They were wondering about this themselves. Now we were never told by what means the disciples were normally casting out demons. Were they just commanding demons, “Hey you! Get out of there!”? Were they following some rites familiar to Jewish exorcists? Well whatever they had been doing, it wasn’t working in this case.

 

Jesus answers them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Imagine that! The disciples didn’t pray. They had not, in the midst of their failure, ask the Father above to cast out the unclean spirit from the boy. No wonder Jesus accost his disciples with a lack of faith. Faith prays. James reminds us, Jas 4:2-3 “You do not have, because you do not ask.  (3)  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” They couldn’t do it because they didn’t ask.

 

Jesus has given us some wonderful, marvelous promises concerning prayer. Mat 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you” Joh 14:13-14 “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  (14)  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Joh 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Joh 15:16 “… but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” Such promises should spur us on to bigger and greater prayers. Has any other God ever made such promises to man?

 

But you say, “I have prayed! But I didn’t get what I asked for.” Did you pray or did you wish? Your Father in heaven is not a wishing well. Jas 1:6-8 “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  (7)  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  (8)  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Was it according to the will of God? 1Jn 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  (15) And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” And if we are not confident that what we ask is according to God’s revealed will, we humbly ask in faith like our Lord Jesus Christ, “not my will but your will be done” trusting He hears us and will do all that is best for us and for his Church.

Heavenly Father, grant us such faith, that we pray according to your will, that you and your Son Jesus Christ are glorified on the day of his revelation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Help My Unbelief!


#DailyDevotion Help My Unbelief!

Mark 9:21 And Jesus asked his father,  “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him,  “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

 

First we should note the merciful kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a desperate father who has brought his demon possessed boy to Jesus to have Jesus cast the boy out. Well he first had brought him to the disciples and they could not do it. Never the less he brings the boy directly to Jesus in hopes that maybe he could do something. That maybe comes out in a big “If you can do anything.”

 

Now Jesus had just reproved the crowd for their faithlessness and in particular his disciples. He actually says something like, “How much longer must I put up with you people!” Not very Christlike of the Christ in our modern thinking, but what do we know. Now the father expresses that same faithlessless with “If you can.” Well Jesus isn’t particularly easy on the guy anymore than the rest. “If you can?! Anything is possible for the one who believes.” So now the father gets a dressing down for his lack of faith.

 

Now the father cries out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” To be fair, the father brought the boy to Jesus to be healed. There is some sort of faith there so I think the father is being honest. Perhaps his faith has been weakened by the disciples inability to cast out the demon. If Jesus could do something then one at that time would think his disciples could as well and vice versa. Yet the father is desperate for his son. When Jesus says anything is possible for the one who believes that encourages the father’s faith. It puts a fan to the smoldering spark that remains. There is hope for there is possibility. The situation isn’t impossible.

 

Perhaps Jesus’ words also help guide the man to the woman of faith, the mother of the Israelite nation, Sarah. When Sarah laughed about having a baby at her age, the Lord said to her, “Is anything to marvelous for the Lord?” Another way to say that is nothing is impossible with the Lord. Now the situation for the man is not impossible. It is no longer if you can but if you will. Jesus has mercy on the man and his son and cast out the demon.

 

Now we have this to see not that God has to answer our prayers the way we want them answered if we could just drum up enough faith but that nothing is impossible with God. It is to increase our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen it. For the big thing is to trust that God in Christ Jesus can and will save and deliver us from sin, the devil and death and not to win this football game. We must despair of ourselves and our ability to save ourselves and trust in the infinite mercy and kindness of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus can and did accomplish your salvation. Praise be to God.

 

Heavenly Father, ever increase in us faith in your Son Jesus Christ that we may always despair of our own efforts to be saved and rather trust in what your Son has accomplished for us by his death and resurrection. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Just What Are You Doing With Your Lips (Or Keyboard)?


#DailyDevotion Just What Are You Doing With Your Lips (Or Keyboard)?

James 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of  unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

 

Luther writes in the Large Catechism on the eighth commandment: Third, with respect to that which refers to all of us,—all sins of the tongue, by which we can injure or offend our neighbor, are forbidden in this commandment. For, bearing false witness is nothing less than the action of the lips ; whatever we do, then, to the injury of our neighbor, by an act of our lips, God prohibits ;… And to these especially belongs this most detestable vice of secret detraction or slander, with which Satan has so deeply infected us ; concerning which a great deal might be said. For it is a pernicious and universal vice, that every one prefers hearing evil rather than good about his neighbor. And though we ourselves are so wicked that we cannot suffer any one to circulate an evil report concerning us, we all, however, ardently desire the whole world to applaud us in

the most commending terms, and yet we are unwilling to hear any commendation concerning others.

 

I am quite certain he is thinking about what James is talking about here unfortunately. For we Christians more often or not are like the people Luther is talking about in this quote. We love to speak ill of others, tearing them down but we will not put up with a single word spoken against us. We will justify our ill spoken words and rip into someone else rightly speaking about our sins.

 

But that is not what Christ Jesus has called us to do. Jesus says, Mat 5:44-48 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  (45)  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  (46)  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  (47)  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  (48) You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Paul writes, Rom 8:34 “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.” As Jesus speaks a good word for us we are called to do likewise.

 

Heavenly Father, forgive us the sins of our lips and give us lips that intercede and bless people that we may be perfect as you are perfect. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Teachers Will Be Judged More Strictly


#DailyDevotion Teachers Will Be Judged More Strictly

James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

 

In our American context this might need to be said more than other places. What do I mean? In America we are overrun in our mindset of everyone being equal and the thought of rugged individualism. What do I need a teacher for? I can read the bible for myself. Since I can read it for myself I can take up the mantle of teaching others. Or we may just make ourselves teachers of just ourselves.

 

James is warning his readers that many of them should not become teachers because teachers will be judged with greater strictness. There is coming a judgment day. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what we have done with the faith given to us. There is a biblical principle that those who have knowledge will be judge with more strictness than those who don’t and those who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

 

Luk 20:46-47  “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts,  (47)  who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” The scribes were Judah’s teachers and so when they do not act in love as the law prescribes they have a greater condemnation.

 

Luk 12:47-48 “And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.  (48)  But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Those who presume to teach presumably know more than the others who are taught. Here we see that those who know and fail to do receive a greater punishment than those who are ignorant.

 

We should not presume to take up the teaching mantle of teaching in the Church. We might prepare ourselves for being called to do such a thing by studying God’s Word and being taught God’s Word. For is it Christ himself who sends us pastor and teachers. Eph 4:11 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,…” Rom 10:15 “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” The Lord Jesus Christ calls and sends men into the ministry through the instrument of the Church, Tit 1:5 “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.” And that the Church possesses the office of the keys in which a man is placed Jesus says, Mat 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” We are gathered that the Church may forgive and retain sins. The Church having possession of this office places a man there with the authority of Christ to absolve sin, teach and administer the sacraments in which this office of the keys is performed by the one he has sent.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us thankful hearts for those whom you have sent to teach us your word, the word of Christ. Grant that they may be faithful not only in their teaching but in their lives so they may receive commendation and not condemnation at Christ’s coming. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Fulfills The Word Of Isaiah


#DailyDevotion Jesus Fulfills The Word Of Isaiah

Isaiah 50:4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear           to hear as those who are taught. 5 The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious;                  I turned not backward. 6 I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. 7 But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

 

Isaiah sees our Lord Jesus Christ in his ministry among us from the beginning to the day of his return in this prophecy. Certainly we see Jesus opening his mouth and teaching the people throughout the gospels. We have in particularly the sermon on the mount and the sermon on the plain.

Jesus testifies, Joh 8:28-29 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.  (29)  And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” And again, Joh 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” Jesus’ ears are open to the Father and he only speaks what the Father tells him.

 

We see the Lord’s passion, his innocent suffering and death predicted by Isaiah. Mat 26:67-68  Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him,  (68)  saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” Joh 19:3  They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.

 

We see in Isaiah the Lord Jesus’ vindication. Luk 24:6-7 “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  (7)  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” Luk 24:50-51 “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.  (51)  While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”

 

Finally those who oppose the Lord in this life will be met with this fate: Rev 19:15-16 “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  (16)  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

 

Heavenly Father grant us ears that hear the word of your Son Jesus Christ and lips that sing his praise that we may see his vindication with joy on the day of his revelation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Are You Someone’s Friend In Jesus?


#DailyDevotion Are You Someone’s Friend In Jesus?

Mark 7:31 Then [Jesus] returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him,  “Ephphatha,” that is,  “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

 

What kind of friends do you have? What kind of friend are you? This deaf mute had friends who loved him and who had faith in Jesus. Now no man may believe for another for their salvation. We all must believe for ourselves. But faith comes through hearing the word of Christ. Someone brings us to Jesus to hear his word. Someone loved us enough to share the good news of Jesus with us that we might believe. These friends faith and love brought the deaf mute to Jesus.

Not only did they bring the man to Jesus but they interceded for him to Jesus. It is a great thing to have friends who love us enough to use their faith in Jesus to intercede for us before Jesus. Jesus sees their faith, hears their prayers and answers them. He takes the man, does several things to indicate to the man what he is about to do and then he speaks word that creates faith, “Ephpatha!” Be opened Jesus tells the man and his ears can hear and his mouth can praise.

Are you a friend like these to the people in your life who don’t know Jesus? Do you risk sharing the Good News of Jesus with the people God has placed in your life so that they too may have faith in Jesus? Do you intercede for your unbelieving friends whose ears cannot hear Jesus and whose mouths cannot proclaim his praise? If you haven’t been then start today. Intercede for the people you know that Jesus may open their ears to hear and mouths to proclaim his praise. Bring them to Jesus through the sharing of your faith. Bring them to Jesus by bringing them to Church where he promises to be (wherever two or more are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of you).

 

In healing the death-mute man Jesus shows he is the God who has come to save us. He not only heals him but Jesus heals the lame, the lepers, the unclean, even raises the dead. Indeed, Jesus has done all things well. Let us join those who gave him thanks and praise and spread his name abroad.

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for those who brought us to Jesus. Now grant us faith, courage and love to bring those around us to Jesus that they may hear his word and believe. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion A Gentile Woman Teaches Jews How To Pray


#DailyDevotion A Gentile Woman Teaches Jews How To Pray

Mark 7: 24 From there [Jesus] arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her,  “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her,  “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

 

Demon possession is real. While in some instances in the ancient world they may attributed many cases of mental illness with demon possession, it seemed never the less that people understood there was a difference between possession and when someone was ‘mad’ or crazy. Clearly in our text today the woman’s daughter was possessed as Jesus says as much. She had an unclean spirit. She had another problem. She wasn’t Jewish. And he she was coming to a Jew for help.

 

She had two things going for her. One she had faith Jesus could heal her daughter and two she was clever. She heard of Jesus. Faith comes by hearing. Now she doesn’t come demanding things from Jesus. No, she comes humbly bowing down before Jesus and begged him. Peter reminds us not to be anxious but to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.

 

But Jesus puts her off at first. Jesus even calls her a dog. That is how the Jews viewed Gentiles. He came for Israel first. When he sent the disciples out he told them to go only to the lost sheep of Israel. And this is where the woman is clever. She takes Jesus at his word. You want to call me a dog? I’ll take that. Even dogs get the scrapes that fall from their master’s table. All I want is a scrap that has fallen from the table. On hearing this, Jesus knows he is caught. He is amazed at this woman’s faith in him. He gives her what she asks for.

 

Now we too should follow this woman’s example. First we should be persistent in prayer. Secondly, we should have faith that God is able to answer our prayers. Third, we go to God through faith in Jesus’ name. Finally, we should pray God’s word and particularly his promises. Where God has made promises we should remind God of his promises in our prayers. Where there is not a specific promise concerning our requests we pray reminding God of his general character taught in the scriptures or the way he has treated his people in general or individuals.

 

Heavenly Father, as the message of Jesus created faith in the woman, grant us faith to come to you in prayer and give us your word that we may pray your will for our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.